The Second Phase of the NAM Project: Manuscripts and Archives

May 18, 2017

With the AVD portion of the project complete, I have recently transferred to the Manuscripts and Archives (M&A) department for the second, and larger, part of the project. With this shift, I not only moved to a different department, I have moved to a different building.

M&A is located in the Soda House, just beyond the Library building, where AVD is housed. This part of the project focuses on approximately 800 linear feet of paper-based materials.

Where do I even begin with such a large collection, especially one that already has pre-1970 material available to researchers?

I began by looking at board meeting minutes starting in the mid-1960s to get an idea of the structure of NAM. What departments were there? When were committees created? How often was the structure reorganized and names changed?

Although I did not read every page thoroughly, I spent over a week going through enough to get a general idea of how NAM was organized and evolved over time. From my notes, I created a timeline-outline hybrid. It will serve as a quick reference of when certain departments and committees were created and where they fall within the larger structure.

Understanding the organizational structure of NAM is vital for the manuscript element because the arrangement of the collection is likely to mirror the various divisions, departments, and committees.

Currently, most of the material I will be working on is stored off-site at the Hall of Records. The Hall is located on Hagley property, but on the other side from the Library and the Soda House. This will mean trips to retrieve boxes.

Archives stacks filled with archive boxes and a ladder
A portion of the boxes from this collection is stored at the Hall of Records.

I know this collection holds a wealth of information and I look forward to sharing it as I process the materials.

Ashley Williams is the National Association of Manufacturers Project Archivist at the Hagley Museum and Library.