Proceedings – MUSEUM RECORDS

Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929



By C. Frank Brockman

Museum records may be divided into three classes:

  • Records of the internal organization including a catalogue of all public exhibits, stored specimens, accessions, plans and projects contemplated, etc.
  • Records that pertain to outside agencies – such as names and addresses of interested organizations, individuals, etc.
  • Records and catalogue files that make accumulated technical data, books, etc., more readily available. All material should be arranged so that the naturalist can put his hand on it and get the desired information with a minimum of time.

Records, while being partly a stenographic job, are of great importance in the museum as it aids in systematizing the work. In the case of small museums in parks when the work is just getting under way and where the personnel is limited a very simple but basic system should be worked out. This system should be such that it can be enlarged and expanded as the work progresses and as stenographic help becomes available. However, in small museums, where the majority of effort is of necessity confined to collecting and development, the clerical work must assume secondary importance for obviously the matters of prime consideration must be taken care of first.


After the reading of Mr. Brockman’s paper, the following points were brought out in a general discussion:

All records should be permanent in nature and should be such that it will not be necessary to copy them at a later date. They should be incorporated in the permanent records, such as the museum accessions book, card files, etc.

Records are indispensable in the labeling of exhibits. Complete data should be obtained and recorded for every specimen secured for the museum. A large permanent accessions book should record the name of the exhibit and all data as to when acquired, the name and address of the donor, etc. Each object should be given a number and numbers should be consecutive as exhibits are received.

To supplement the accessions book there should be a card index of all exhibits, arranged alphabetically by subjects. These cards should contain all necessary data, the number of the object and its position in the exhibit case or storage case. A duplicate series of cards should be filed in a fireproof vault, and preferably in another building.

A card index of all donors should be kept, and this record should be cross-indexed with the above records so that any exhibit can be immediately located.

A record should also be kept of all possible accessions which may be obtained in the future, where and when they may be available, and under what conditions they may be obtained.


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