Tools of the Trade

By the Archives
October 30, 2015
Letter sorter used by processing staff.

Blogs across the Smithsonian will give an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blog-a-thon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.

To wrap up Archives Month, 2015 we are sharing some our favorite archival tools.


WIRELESS HEADPHONES | Judy Ng, Collections Processing


Judy loves her wireless headphones for listening to podcasts while she processes. “Keeps your brain sane,” she says. Judy tunes into the Pop Culture Happy Hour while arranging exhibition files and photographs in the Leo Castelli Gallery records for digitization and online access.



CLEAR RULER | Elizabeth Willson Christopher, Rights and Reproductions Coordinator



In the battle of the measuring device (ruler vs. tape measure) this ruler is clearly superior “as it allows you to have minimal interaction with collection materials: you can measure photographs without touching them.”


TAPE MEASURE | Bettina Smith, Digital Projects Librarian



Bettina proclaims, “This snazzy red tape measure is pocket-sized, easily measures documents that are longer than the standard ruler, and the lion logo brings back fond memories of time spent at Rare Book School. (aka summer camp for librarians).”


THE MICROSPATULA | Anna Rimel, Collections Processing

Anna notes, “The spatula is delicate yet powerful.” Among its many uses include scraping the residue of old rubber bands from paper and removing staples and paper clips as seen in this (soon to be viral) video.


MECHANICAL PENCILS | Sarah Mundy, Collections Processing



“We have to write a lot. You never have to sharpen these!”


TRELLO | Michelle Herman, Digital Experience Manager



Trello is the only way I can keep sane.” Michelle uses this task-management program to keep track of what she’s doing and what she’s done. It provides ways to track and label that she finds particularly helpful in her work managing the design of the new Archives’ website.


LETTER OPENER | Bridget Mazet, Advancement Assistant

Bridget has found the letter opener to be an invaluable tool during planning for the Archives’ annual benefit. Plus, it “looks like something from another world.”


LETTER SORTER | Stephanie Ashley, Collections Processing



The letter sorter (aka AZJD09+), continues to be a workhorse, and staff favorite, in Collections Processing. “It’s the best,” declares Stephanie.



Fellow archivist here--Can you tell me the official name of the AZJD09+? I'd like to buy one for our archive, but I'm having trouble finding it. Where can I find one?