Case Study - Corporate Records (UCLA)

I. Overview

Collection type:

Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL) records

Extent and scope:

97 linear feet, plus 68 oversize boxes


The Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL) records are an example of a collection that was in very good order, an arrangement that naturally lent itself to logical series, with existing folder titles that were usable for the description.  The processing naturally went very quickly.

II. Approach


UCLA was jointly awarded funding from CLIR for a processing project titled “Uncovering California’s Environmental Collections: A Collaborative Approach.”  The UNOCAL records were included in this proposal, which allowed UCLA to hire an archivist for the processing.  The project began in February 2010 and was finished by the end of May 2010.

A small portion of the collection was essentially already processed, the glass and nitrate negatives (1 linear foot and 14 oversize boxes) and only required minor modifications.  There was a Microsoft Access database for the negatives with good description, however the series and subseries were modified and reduced from 50 to 20.  The material had also already been rehoused.

The bulk of the collection was unprocessed, which prior to processing was 127 linear feet. 


The archivist began by surveying the collection.  All of the materials were stored in banker boxes and were in good order.  Original order was preserved and seven series were established.  With the exception of the publications series, the material was already arranged chronologically or alphabetically, so little rearrangement would have been needed even if we had intended to do more detailed processing.  However, the archivist did take the time to sort the publications chronologically.  All materials were refoldered and put into acid free boxes, but no item level treatment was performed.  In most instances the description was based on the existing folder titles.  Some series did need new description, particularly with the correspondence.

The photographs required minimal work, as they had already been described and rehoused.  In instances where there was a photographic print that accompanied the negative, the items were not separated to save time. 


The EAD finding aid:


Unknown. (Checking on this---KB)

III. Processing rate:

1-2 hours per linear foot

IV. Pros and Cons


  • Collection arrived with good order and arrangement
  • Saved time by using a lot of existing description 


  • Photographic prints would be better cared for if they were separated from the negatives.
  • No item level treatment meant that some items are possible misfiled. 
  • No item level treatment also means that deteriorating paper clips and staples have not been removed.


Document owner: Polina Ilieva. Version 3.0. Last reviewed: August 20, 2012

Last updated: April 10, 2013