Microfiche Project

A guest post by Rebekkah Hibbert.

The Utah State Archives received a grant in 2010 to organize thousands of unknown microfiche. With the help of our wonderful volunteers this project is making great progress! Microfiche has been moved from metal storage cabinets, inventoried and organized by series. Volunteers are helping us view the microfiche, create descriptions and put them in archival boxes for patron use.

There have been several exciting finds: we have found a picture of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser at the Salt Lake Airport from 1949, blueprints of the Utah State Capitol, executive orders from many governors, an indictment of Butch Cassidy and more!

The project has provided me with a crash course of processing, records management and the programs used. What was at first daunting to look at has become so familiar I occasionally find myself wondering why F8 doesn’t do the same thing on my home computer as it does for the APPX program. I have learned attention to detail is more crucial than I thought, and I already thought it was crucial. Not only could lacking attention causing simple mistakes (which can be problematic and frustrating enough in itself), but could lead to losing a record to a series in which it does not belong. Assigning a series to a record is important and requires careful consideration if the record is ever to be utilized.

Though records date back to 1916 and as current as 2003, we discovered most microfiche we have were produced in the late 1960’s thru the early 1980’s. Computer Output Microfiche, or COM fiche was used often by state agencies to keep track of information during those decades. It appears to have been so readily available that we have thousands of cards of occupational licenses. Normally these would not be put on microfiche, but in the 80’s and 90’s it must have been an easy way to keep these records considering the volume we have. Hopefully one day these will be of great value to genealogists.

All the microfiche has been assigned to a series, which being done feels like a new project has begun. Everything is starting to be labeled and finding aids will be created so these records can share their information with you.

About Gina Strack

Processing & Reference Archivist at the Utah State Archives. View all posts by Gina Strack

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