Editor’s Note

Hidden Potential: Revealing the Hidden Collection in your Archives

This issue of Primary Source deals with a common issue among archives: hidden collections. “Hidden” can mean different things. First, they may be collections that have been processed, but never used. Secondly, hidden collections can be those that have absolutely never been touched by an archivist’s organizational hand. They may or may not have been re-housed. They may or may not have been accessioned. 

The problems surrounding hidden collections lead to numerous questions. Should repositories accept collections that have little potential for use? If yes, what responsibility do we have as archivists to make it known to the public that such collections exist? How are we in the profession keeping a record of how we promote our collections?

The articles in this volume show how various repositories are handling their hidden collections and trying to answer some of the questions posed above. They reveal the strategies and methods used to combat the challenges of bringing such collections to the light of day.

While this may not completely eradicate all of your unknown or unprocessed materials, these articles will hopefully help you at your institution when deciding how to begin the process of tackling hidden collections.

Thank you,

Mona K. Vance


Mona K. Vance is the Archivist for the Local History Department at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library in Columbus, Mississippi. She received her BS in Communications from Mississippi University for Women before earning her masters in History from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She recently published her first book Images of America: Columbus through Arcadia Publishing. In 2011 she received the Award for Excellence for Archival Program Development from the Mississippi Historical Records Advisory Board and in 2012 an Award of Merit from the Mississippi Historical Society. She currently serves as Editor of the Society of Mississippi Archivists’ journal The Primary Source, a member of the Women Archivists Roundtable Steering Committee through the Society of American Archivists, and as a board member of the Stephen D. Lee Foundation in Columbus.