How I, Rare Books Cataloger, Became the World’s Expert on The Days’ Doings

by bibliodeviant

Special Collections Cataloging at Penn

Until now, it had been so simple and I had been having so much fun. Now, however, things were different. Now I was at my wit’s end. What started as the least complicated of the projects I had done using Archivists’ Toolkit, the library’s finding aid creation software, had suddenly become a black hole.

My task was to create a finding aid for The Days’ Doings, a sensationalist illustrated weekly newspaper from the 1870s.  A finding aid lists the contents of a collection to simplify the process of accessing and using it, and ideally, shows potential readers why they might want to use the collection for their research. The four issues of The Days’ Doings I was working with are part of the extensive collection of Mark Twain materials the library owns: the issues we have were at some point bound together in a flimsy volume with brown paper…

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