Case Study – 20th Century Personal Papers (UCSD)

Joanne Kyger Papers


I. Overview


Collection type:

Literary & personal papers from a contemporary poet


Extent and scope:

22 linear feet with seven series: Biographical materials, Correspondence, Writings, Writings of others, Other projects, Subject files, and Images & recordings. Materials document Kyger’s life and work as an important member of the ‘post-beat’ West Coast poetry community. Papers include correspondence, poetry manuscripts and typescripts, ephemera, photographs, and audio recordings.



Papers were purchased from the poet, who is still living and working. Additions to the collection are still possible.


II. Approach



The materials comprised 32 records cartons and one oversized flat box, containing manuscript material as well as books, broadsides and reel-to-reel recordings. The collection arrived with the correspondence and writings files well arranged. Also, because the collection was a purchase and had been appraised by a dealer, it arrived in with a detailed description.



The collection is part of UCSD’s larger Archive for New Poetry (ANP), a rich and well used collection of literary papers. Because of this, materials in the collection believed to have overlap within the larger archive, were processed at a more detailed level – this includes Writings of others and Audio recordings. It was decided that an MPLP approach could be used for the Correspondence and Writings series. The rest of the collection was processed traditionally, with folder or, in the case of audio recordings, item level description.


This outline will describe the Writings & Correspondence series only. The other series were processed traditionally and do not use MPLP guidelines.


1. Surveyed materials and developed a processing plan.

                        a. Removed published material for review and cataloging.

                        b. Removed rolled broadsides, posters, and ephemera for flattening.

                        c. Determined series: Biographical materials, Correspondence, Writings,

Writings of others, Other projects, Subject files, and Images & recordings.


            2. Collection processed.

                        a. Correspondence and Writings series were refoldered into acid-free folders.

                        b. Folders were labeled using original folder titles.

c. With Writings – no effort was made to join poem drafts separated between folders.

d. With Correspondence – no weeding was done. Duplicates, email blasts, junk mail, etc. may remain. Folders containing fewer than 3 pieces of mail were added to Miscellaneous files.


            3. Finding aid was created in AT.

a. An existing biography was used – one written for the Joanne Kyger Correspondence, housed at UCSD. Some edits were made to this biography at Kyger’s request.

b. Folders were numbered and entered into AT by student assistants.


Although Correspondence was still done at a higher level of description, one can see a difference by comparing the Joanne Kyger Papers with an earlier collection – the Joanne Kyger Correspondence.


From the Joanne Kyger Correspondence:


From the Joanne Kyger Papers:




The EAD finding aid:



The collection has been used by researchers both in house and off-site. With minimal assistance, they have been able to find the information they need within the collection.


III. Processing rate

Not captured.


IV. Pros and Cons



  • Processing with varying levels of detail allowed us to process more quickly while considering the needs of our patrons.
  • The creator of the collection was pleased with the end result.



  • Most researchers using this collection also search the Joanne Kyger Correspondence (a collection separate from the Kyger Papers), which has much more detail regarding the contents of each folder. This can sometimes create confusion, leaving users to wonder why the two Correspondence series are so different.


  • Many of the original folder titles, specifically those in the Writings series, are generic.

Version 3.0. Last reviewed: August 20, 2012