We’re pleased to announce the completion of a project to reorganize the John J. McCloy Papers, one of our most heavily used collections.
The project involved three steps – each intended to increase ease of access to the collection and ensure the protection of the material.
Addressing preservation issues: this collection was first processed in the late 1980s. When archival collections are first processed, they are housed in acid-free containers to protect the material. But over time acid-free boxes and folders become acidic and don’t protect as well. We swapped out all of the boxes in the McCloy Papers for new acid-free buffered boxes and replaced well-worn folders. Oversized material in the collection was given boxes specially designed to fit the material. You can read more about ideal storage methods here.
Condensing the collection: this was also a bit of a preservation issue. The McCloy Papers are housed in records cartons, which look like this:
A number of the boxes in the collection were not completely filled. Ideally, a box should be filled just enough so that it is easy to pull out a needed folder. A box should not be overstuffed, nor should it be under-filled – either situation puts unnecessary strain on the archival material.
A well-filled records carton
Providing unique identifiers: After physically condensing the collection, boxes and folders needed to be renumbered and the finding aid brought up to date. We gave the boxes and folders sequential numbers so that the finding aid would provide one single list.
This part was quite the endeavor – the collection comprises over 50 boxes and thousands of folders. But we persisted and the brand new finding aid is available online. It is accessible here.
If you’ve used the collection before and have old citations for items in the collection, don’t worry. We’ve put together a cheat sheet that will translate those citations for you.
For the uninitiated, here is an overview of the collection:
The John J. McCloy Papers were given to Amherst College by McCloy through a deed of gift executed in July of 1985. It was one of the largest acquisitions for the Archives at the time. Prior to their physical transfer to the Amherst College Archives, roughly half of the papers underwent a national security review by the Department of State. The bulk of these arrived at the College in May of 1986, with several batches sent later following clearance by the relevant government agency. Today, the Papers comprise 59.5 linear feet of material, including 52 records cartons, 28 flat boxes, 1 scroll box, and 2 map case drawers.
The McCloy Papers span the years 1897-1989, with the bulk of the material falling into the period 1940-1979. The roughly 60 linear feet of material cover the breadth of McCloy’s activities, from lawyer to banker to government official to negotiator to behind-the-scenes adviser. The papers include working papers, correspondence, memoranda, speeches, scrapbooks, photographs, legal documents, printed material, and memorabilia. Of particular interest is the material which focuses on McCloy’s time as High Commissioner of Germany after World War II, and the material concerning McCloy’s involvement in Japanese internment camps during the war.
McCloy received many honorary degrees and awards over the course of his career.
Our next preservation project involving the McCloy Papers will be to send out the legacy media for digital reformatting.