M-ayo A-rchives X-plorer… Introducing MAX !

October 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm

In 1953 at the direction of Mayo Clinic’s Board of Governors the Mayo Historical Unit (MHU) began to systematically acquire and organize information related to the history of Mayo Clinic.  Researchers studying the evolution of the institution and archives staff assisting them have been required to use an array of paper finding tools, mostly single-spaced, typed Collection Inventories.  They faced a daunting challenge when they wanted to review documents in a large collection such as the papers of  Dr. Charles Horace Mayo, one of the founders.  The Collection Inventory listed hundreds of folder titles contained in 108 archival boxes: the equivalent of 54 cubic feet or approximately 135,000 pieces of paper.

Hunting for specific information in such a large collection with only a paper finding aid is a time-consuming business, but beginning in late 2011 researchers will have desktop access on the Mayo intranet to explore Mayo Clinic history collections by folder title keyword, name, and subjects using the Mayo Archives Xplorer–MAX. 

MAX is the Mayo intranet interface for the archives management system (proprietary software from Cuadra STAR/Archives) used by the institution.  It will open a new world of historical materials–many previously unavailable–to Mayo employees with historical information needs.

Descriptions of 168 collections called Finding Aids totaling more than 64,000 records will be available for searching.  A Finding Aid describes the scope and content of a group of Records or Papers, and provides an inventory/box list–usually at the folder title level–of the materials contained in that collection.  It also includes biographical or historical information about the collection; narrative description of the collection; and lists of important subjects and people that are included in the collection.

At present, only lists of collection contents are available through MAX (not the actual documents) and use of specific collections and original documents  still requires a scheduled visit to Historical Archives on Plummer 3.  MAX is continually updated with new records reflecting new collections or holdings in Mayo’s archival collections with high level collection information also viewable in the Mayo library online catalog.  Future plans involve a variety of digitization projects including scanning of selected documents and photographs which will also be viewable through MAX.

Mayo Historical Unit  staff should still be contacted for assistance in identifying collections that have not yet been described in MAX.

Karen F. Koka
Mayo Historical Unit

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