Case Study – Using Legacy Data (UCD)

Submitted by Sara Gunasekara, Department of Special Collections, University of California, Davis

Collection of United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Records On California Wineries

I. Overview

The collection contains applications to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for the establishment of wineries in California, statements of ownership, corporation papers, materials on bonds and consents, winery plans, capacity, facilities, and vineyard acreage. Correspondence regarding audits, permits, and inspections is also included. The records cover the time period from 1920-1950 and therefore include Prohibition and the repeal of Prohibition.   
This collection, which is 132 linear feet, has been here since the early 1970s. The paper legacy finding aid had two lists—one by geographic location of the winery and another alphabetical by name.  But the files were not arranged by either of these approaches.   The collection has been used in several books including: When the Rivers Ran Red: an Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America’s Wine Country and Last Call: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition. The collection had a collection level catalog record and an old paper (not electronic) box list.

II. Approach

After returning from the Western Round-Up in Seattle in 2010, the Collections Manager was inspired to tackle this collection using an MPLP approach.  She split up the alphabetical paper list amongst her student assistants and they typed the descriptions from the list (Name of winery, geographic location of winery, date range and box and folder number) into EAD. The Collections Manager added some front matter to the finding aid and reviewed the contents list.

III. Processing Rates

                We didn’t capture this data.

IV. Pros and Cons

We didn’t rearrange files so that the collection was physically organized alphabetically by the name of the winery. This means that we may have to order several boxes from offsite storage if a patron is researching a particular winery. Additionally, the papers in each file are held in place by metal fasteners. We didn’t initially remove the metal but instead opted to remove the metal when a box is called back for use.

The finding aid has been discovered by several people since it was posted on OAC and several have traveled to Davis to conduct research.