Case Study - University Archives Collection (UCI)

University of California, Irvine, Chancellor Jack W. Peltason Records

I. Overview

Collection type: 

University Archives 

Extent and scope:

35.6 Linear feet.  Includes records relating to UCI Chancellor Peltason's administrative duties, community involvement, and professional activities, as well as memorabilia and records related to his inauguration.


 A large proportion of the records generated by the Peltason administration were organized by the Central Records Unit of the University of California, Irvine, which is now defunct.  The University Archives holds records from this Central Records Unit as a separate collection.  The records that make up this collection were never transferred to or maintained by this Central Records Unit.  This may explain their random and disorganized nature.

II. Approach


Between 1992 and 2009, the University Archives received nine accessions relating to Chancellor Peltason.  Each accession contained a mixture of personal papers and administrative records.  The accessions were assigned to three different collections, depending on whether the administrative records or personal papers were dominant.   About 25% of the material was loose, 25% in binders, and 50% in folders.


  1. Survey and planning
    1. The nine accessions were surveyed to identify all administrative material.  All administrative material was pulled and consolidated for processing into a single collection.
  2. Restrictions
  3. Personnel records were identified throughout the chronological correspondence series.  Because item-level review would have been necessary to address this, this work was not performed and the series was restricted.  This work will be completed upon demand.  See the next section for more information.
  4. Personnel records were also identified in other series as well.  However, because these could be isolated folder-by-folder, these were separated into seperate boxes and restricted, so that the rest of the series could be open for research.
  5. The archivist identified seven series.  For the most part, these series reflected the original order of the material. 
  6. Material within the same series were not always found in consecutive boxes.  The archivist arranged parts of the collection when easy; however, the collection was not completely re-arranged.  Therefore, materials in the same series are found in non-consecutively numbered boxes.  E.g.,
  7. Arrangement and preservation 
3.  Box-folder 25 : 31
4.     Abdouch, Ruthann, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor: correspondence and other materials 1985-1989
5.  Box-folder 21 : 18-19
6.     Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (Western Association of Schools and Colleges): correspondence, reports and other materials 1984-1985
7.  Box-folder 4: 1
8.     Advisory Committees: correspondence 1989
9.  Box-folder 4 : 2-3
10.   Aldrich, Daniel G., Jr. Society: correspondence 1987-1989
11.Box-folder 21 : 20
12.   American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Western Center: correspondence, draft reports, and other materials 1988-1989
13.Box-folder 4 : 4-8
14.   American College Testing: conference materials, correspondence, and annual reports 1985-1987
  1. For the most part, the archivist did not replace folders in good condition.  When labels were falling off original folders, she stapled the labels back on.
  2. The archivist took materials out of bulky binders and placed the contents in folders to save space. 
  3. Description
  4. The level of description varied by series.  Three of seven series were organized by date and described at the box level. We chose box level description to faciliate retrieval:
2.  Speeches
3.   Box-folder 34 : 1-43
4.     1984 October-1986 October
5.   Box-folder 35 : 1-56
6.     1986 November-1988 December
7.   Box-folder 36 : 1-51
8.     1989 January-1989 September
9.   Box-folder 37 : 1-40
10.   1989 October-1990 June
11. Box-folder 38 : 1-40
12.   1990 July-1991 May
  1. The archivist refined folder description while creating the finding aid in the Archivist's Toolkit; however, she did not relabel the physical folder labels with the enhanced information.  Increased description in the finding aid improves identification and retrieval in the Online Archive of California, but we saved time by not replicating this information in the physical box. The labels are close enough so users won't get confused, and the folders' numbers may also be matched to the finding aid.
    1. For example, the existing label on a folder might say "Collective Bargaining," but the archivist added information in the finding aid to say "Collective bargaining with members of the UC Academic Senate under the Berman Act: briefing book with goals, strategy, facts, and other materials, 1979 September 5."
    2. As she was creating the container listing in the Archivist's Toolkit, the archivist quickly glanced in each folder or box (depending on the level of description) to provide approximate dates for the materials.
    3. Students numbered the folders in each box, and labeled the boxes.  


1.     The EAD finding aid:
  1. The finding aid is has an average level of description. We did not cut too many corners with description, but rather saved time by not doing much arrangement or preservation.
  2. A processing note explains the minimal approach to the collection, for both researchers and public services staff.
2.     Restrictions:

The Chronological Correspondence series contains the following restriction:

"The entire series is restricted until 2068 due to the presence of scattered personnel records. However, researchers may contact the Department of Special Collections and Archives to request access to records from particular dates or date ranges, and staff will provide access to unrestricted material after reviewing requested ranges and separating restricted material."

We will perform item-level review and processing of small sections of this correspondence in response to specific research requests. 

3. Use:

 The collection has not been used yet.


III. Processing rate:

 Archivist: 4 hours a linear foot

IV. Pros and Cons


  • By cutting corners on arrangement and preservation actions, we reduced the amount of effort required to process this collection. 
  • By privileging description, we achieved the "best bang for the buck" for professional labor for this collection.  The archivist spent more time analyzing and making intellectual sense of the collection for users, rather than performing clerical tasks. 
  • This method of processing required using the Archivist Toolkit simultaneoulsy with processing actions.  Description did not happen after arrangement and preservation was complete.  Rather, the archivist added description about a folder or box in the Archivist's Toolkit as she was addressing the housing issues and examining the contents. We saved time by using the Archivist's Toolkit to capture all information gleaned during the first pass-through of the materials. 


  • The finding aid does not match the labels on the folders, so a patron needs to have the finding aid in front of them while they are using the material to make sense of some series.
  • The content of the speeches are not indexed in any way, so access to them is limited. Users will not be able to discover  the relevance of Peltason's speeches to their topic of inquiry. Rather, only individuals interested in Peltason will probably use the speeches. 
  • Rather than performing item-level processing work in the chronological correspondence series to identify restrictions, we pushed this work into the future based on user demand.  We hope to negotiate interest in this series to very specific time periods, so that when a user requests material, we won't have to review too much material on demand.  However, future demands on our staffing for accessing this series are unknown. 

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


Last updated: April 10, 2013