"Overview of Archiving the Non-Archival":
Visual Images and Summary Considerations

By Darlene Tong

Continued from page one.

For two years (August 1995-August 1997), Nancy Frank (pictured) and Darlene Tong reviewed, sorted and weeded materials in the collection, eventually reducing it to about 1/10th of what was in the space at the beginning of the process.
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This is how we began the initial sorting of materials if they were not already filed in folders. As rudimentary as it looks, we used existing shelving and cabinets to set up categories early on (e.g., audiotapes, posters, our ephemera, books, rubber stamps, materials that needed to be integrated into existing files, etc.)
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Some materials were already sorted and we boxed them as soon as possible - inside the gallery space in front of Club Nine canvas billboard that had been borrowed for earlier performances.
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Materials within series categories -- Artists, Events, Arts Organizations, Artists' Periodicals -- were alphabetically arranged in folders and placed in archival boxes the week before Stanford transferred them. Until that time, we were adding to the files as we sorted mounds of material that had not been organized earlier.
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Art librarians from Stanford, Peter Blank (left) and Alex Ross (right) came to help us pack the materials in archival boxes that were supplied by Stanford University Special Collections.
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Alex Ross and Darlene Tong - two art librarians working on packing and numbering archival boxes of materials.
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Nancy Frank, Jennifer Bender, Darlene Tong, the last of the Art Commies, pictured in the gallery space with packed boxes.
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Archival boxes in order within series (categories).
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Once boxes were taped and numbered, we stacked them neatly in the gallery space already vacated by SF Cameraworks Gallery. The materials transferred to Stanford measured 300 linear feet, the length of a football field.
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Gallery space and cabinets empty and clear at end of the process.
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Summary Considerations from D. Tong's Paper:

For Those Developing Artists' Archives

For Archival Repositories and Institutions:

For the Researcher:


If I were able to look into a crystal ball and envision the near future I would see a significant number of artists' archives residing in perpetuity in archival repositories where they will be preserved and accessible to the public. Detailed full-text finding aids would be available online, and a large proportion of the collection would be digitized so that on-site and remote users could have access to much of the content of collections. Online systems such as Archival Resources or other subject-specific databases would provide integrated access to archival collections so that researchers could easily find out about an artist archive and its various parts that might be dispersed to several institutions. In addition, researchers would be able to access part of the collection in digitized form to determine whether making a trip to the archival institution to view the originals is worthwhile.


Web sites:

Online Resources of California @ CDL

Archival Resources from Research Libraries Group

Project CIAO (Conceptual & Intermedia Art Online)

Darlene Tong is the Head of Information, Research & Instructional Services and Art Librarian at San Francisco State University. She is also on the Board of Directors of La Mamelle, an artist-run organization in San Francisco. From 1995-1997, she worked on the review of the La Mamelle/Art Com Archives & Collection, and their transfer from artist space to Stanford University Special Collections.

This temporary Web site was created by Chris Mays for Darlene Tong.
Questions and comments should be directed to dtong@sfsu.edu