Presenter Bios

Leroy J. Arnold is the Senior Director of the Library and Collections at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where he has been since 1992. He is also the Society’s Chief Operating Officer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Edgewood College (Wisconsin), a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), and a master’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in archival studies from Temple University (Philadelphia), He has studied French and Spanish, respectively, at Université de Montréal (Québec) and Universidad de la Habana (Cuba). He has just completed a doctorate from the University of South Africa’s program in Information Science (Archives). L.J. Arnold is a certified archivist (Academy of Certified Archivists), book critic (National Book Critics Circle), genealogist (Association of Professional Genealogists), certified master tour guide (Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides) and a published travel writer. He speaks frequently to groups on how to conduct historical research and how to get started researching one’s family history. He also specializes in providing French-language tours of Historic Philadelphia.

Abstract

Researchers attempting to access genre archives are often stymied by insufficient metadata. They frequently overlook collections because a processing archivist may not have described those collections in a way which would have benefitted their research. Historic travel writing, often the end-product of a travel archive, generally focused on pilgrimages, exploration, adventure and leisure (Arnold 2000). Yet finding these, and perhaps other types of, archives is a difficult task due to either too narrow/too broad or insufficient metadata. It is most likely the intent of the creator of the collection which foreshadows its archival description. Archivists can play a more active role in helping these collections expand their audiences by making them more accessible. This study explores, using travel-related archives as a case study, how archivists can better use metadata in describing genre collections. Looking at travel-related travel archival collections at The American Philosophical Society, The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Presbyterian Historical Society and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the researcher sets out four objectives: to assess the current state of metadata relating to travel archives; to ascertain how researchers use travel collections; to suggest how travel archives can be better described; and to propose these remedies to other genre collections. To this end he answers four crucial questions: How are travel-related archives currently described (as exploration, expedition, travel accounts, cartographic, etc.) and what is the quality (based on standard criteria) of the finding aids to these collections?; How are these collections used by researchers?; How can travel-related archives be better described?; and How can the remedies for accessing travel archives be expanded to other genre collections? The researcher provides six recommendations as remedies for the problem of adequate access to travel-related archives. Using this case study of these four Philadelphia-based archives as a base, the researcher provides four recommendations as remedies for the problem of adequate access to other genre archival collections. But the fonds of this thesis is really more than just providing bibliographic tools to archival patrons. It is more than what all this research reports, but rather what it leads to. Where does it take a reader? Are archivists missing the point by only providing researchers what they, the archivists, perceive researchers prefer?

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Refining Metadata for Travel Archives

Researchers attempting to access genre archives are often stymied by insufficient metadata. They frequently overlook collections because a processing archivist may not have described those collections in a way which would have benefitted their research. Historic travel writing, often the end-product of a travel archive, generally focused on pilgrimages, exploration, adventure and leisure (Arnold 2000). Yet finding these, and perhaps other types of, archives is a difficult task due to either too narrow/too broad or insufficient metadata. It is most likely the intent of the creator of the collection which foreshadows its archival description. Archivists can play a more active role in helping these collections expand their audiences by making them more accessible. This study explores, using travel-related archives as a case study, how archivists can better use metadata in describing genre collections. Looking at travel-related travel archival collections at The American Philosophical Society, The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Presbyterian Historical Society and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the researcher sets out four objectives: to assess the current state of metadata relating to travel archives; to ascertain how researchers use travel collections; to suggest how travel archives can be better described; and to propose these remedies to other genre collections. To this end he answers four crucial questions: How are travel-related archives currently described (as exploration, expedition, travel accounts, cartographic, etc.) and what is the quality (based on standard criteria) of the finding aids to these collections?; How are these collections used by researchers?; How can travel-related archives be better described?; and How can the remedies for accessing travel archives be expanded to other genre collections? The researcher provides six recommendations as remedies for the problem of adequate access to travel-related archives. Using this case study of these four Philadelphia-based archives as a base, the researcher provides four recommendations as remedies for the problem of adequate access to other genre archival collections. But the fonds of this thesis is really more than just providing bibliographic tools to archival patrons. It is more than what all this research reports, but rather what it leads to. Where does it take a reader? Are archivists missing the point by only providing researchers what they, the archivists, perceive researchers prefer?