Archives*RM Testimonial #5

This testimonial about the intersections of archives and records management comes from Elizabeth McGorty, Archivist & Records Manager for Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

I serve as Archivist & Records Manager for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) which manages the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Yard was once a federal ship repair facility on the Brooklyn waterfront owned and operated by the US Navy. During WWII it was the largest industrial complex in New York state – a 300-acre facility employing 70,000 civilian workers repairing over 1,000 ships. In 1967 the site was purchased by the City of New York and was transformed into an industrial park. There are now over 300 tenant businesses in the sectors of manufacturing, design, and art.

I like to think of the Yard as a site with two lives, and this is certainly present in our special collections – comprising personal effects of former welders, carpenters, and electricians, and our flagship collection(s) which comprise architectural and engineering drawings of the site – nearly 3,000 linear feet in extent. The collection of drawings created by the Bureau of Yards and Docks (construction arm of the US Navy) date as early as 1806, when military residences were built, but also contain drawings of substations, railroad tracks, shops, and production utility buildings. The other collection of drawings is contemporary, all commissioned by BNYDC for maintenance repair, renovation, and development projects, dating from the 1970s.

Architectural drawings are considered both a corporate record (as defined by our policies) and material of archival value. Thus, it requires arrangement, description, digitization, and ingest into our DAM/public facing digital library at the item level. Item level processing was predicated on user value – recalling boxes of project records currently in retention does not serve staff, nor the needs of external consultants and contractors who need specific drawings for repair and tenant fit-out projects that occur after the construction project is completed. Project records are a series in the schedule, but the drawings from those projects are accessioned into the two aforementioned collections.

Managing our corporate records (two types with the same name: corporate records deemed permanent, AND records of the corporation in temporary retention) has helped me as archivist committed to, among other things, preserving BNYDC’s corporate legacy. It’s easy to see the intersection of RM and Archives because they are both functions of a singular process: the life cycle of information, and I see this in practice every day.

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