Using Microsoft Excel to Organize Resources

A spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel is considerably better than trying to control the data for your collection in a manual set of papers or in your own mind. You might want to read about databases as well before making a final decision.
Objective: Record the data of your collection electronically.

As discussed in Whelming Operations, there are 5 distinct categories of metadata that you should include:

  • A unique name for each item of your collection (I use a 6-digit number assigned sequentially to each item).
  • A digital picture of each item (a picture of a book is not essential for historiography, but is a great help in finding the volume on your shelves!).
  • Detailed information on where the item is to be stored.
  • Detailed information on where the item came from (establish provenance).
  • Detailed description of the item and relevant details of the time in which it was created.

The Excel printout of an entry for a class picture taken at Stamford’s Rexmere Hotel is shown below. The metadata states that item number 10045 is a picture that was taken in 1935. It was scanned and the high resolution scan is located in the archives of the Gilboa Historical Society Newsletter, volume 09.3. The picture was a gratis loan from Shirley Krutzscher in 2007, who has the original.

The description of this picture as it appeared in the newsletter listed the various people.

“Gilboa School Trip to Stamford’s Rexmere Hotel (now the Cyr Center): left to right, Mildred Case King, Inabelle Hubbard, Marjorie DeWitt, Esther Richtmyer Tompkins, Prof. Hagadorn, Evelyn Young Haskin, Pauline Faulkner, Maude Bailey Haskin, Hilda Osborn, Evelyn Hubbard Taylor, and (possibly) Otto Vroman. Photo courtesy of Shirley Kutzscher.”

Excel printout of an entry for a class picture taken at Stamford's Rexmere Hotel

Excel printout of an entry for a class picture taken at Stamford’s Rexmere Hotel

Gerry Stoner

Gerry Stoner

This article is one of several to help you document local history. Other articles will help you convert your interviews, documents, pictures, and artifacts into documentation of your local history that can be shared with your community.