The Koreshan Unity Collection: An Inside Look into Processing a Large Archival Collection (Part One)
Ever wonder what archivists mean when they say a collection is in process?
This is the first in a series of posts about processing a large historical records collection. Join us as we transform hundreds of boxes of disorganized, mislabeled files into an accessible, understandable, research-ready collection.
Assisted by National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant funding, the State Archives of Florida is processing the records of the Koreshan Unity, a late 19th/early 20th century religious utopian community whose members shared a common belief in Koreshanity.
Among the Unity’s unique beliefs was their guiding principal that the Earth existed as a concave sphere. As a result, Earth’s populace lived inside the Earth, with the planets existing in the center of the sphere where the Earth’s core would otherwise have been.
The Koreshan Unity collection contains many thousands of documents and photographs illustrating the members’ beliefs and the expression of those beliefs in their communal lifestyle. The collection accumulated for a century throughout the Unity’s existence. In 2008 and 2009, State Archives staff traveled to Estero, Florida, to evaluate the collection and identify materials of historical importance to be transferred to the Archives. Here is what we found in Estero:
With extensive assistance from Koreshan State Historic Site staff, archivists prepared and transported the historical records to Tallahassee so they could be preserved and made accessible.
Because the Koreshan Unity collection provides a unique look into both the archival process and Florida history, we’ve decided to share this journey with blog readers and patrons of the State Archives of Florida. Watch for future posts for more on the history of the Unity, collection processing activities and interesting finds in the collection.