The archives are housed at the Institut für Jugendbuchforschung of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität in Frankfurt, thanks to the initiative of founder member of the IRSCL and then director of the institute, Klaus Doderer, and to the generosity of his successor, Hans-Heino Ewers. The Institut cannot provide any service with regard to ordering or arranging material; the responsibility for the upkeep of archival material lies solely with the Board of the IRSCL.
In 1989, a first survey of the archives was undertaken and the President, Ann MacLeod, formalized the policy that all the documents of each Board would be sent to Frankfurt immediately after the end of their term. Board member Thomas van der Walt visited and surveyed the archives in 1997, and, less than impressed by their state, recommended that a member of the next Board (elected in 2001) should be appointed archivist. As a member of staff at the Institut für Jugendbuchforschung at the time, Emer O'Sullivan was an obvious candidate for the job.
The archives consisted, in 2001, of 14 arch files bearing descriptions which did not match their contents, as well as three large cardboard boxes filled with unsorted material. The task of the archivist was to sort the existing material into categories, to identify and try to fill the gaps, and to bring the Archives up to date.
The major decisions to be made were: what should be kept and how should it be ordered and documented. The Board agreed the key documents to be kept and collected were: minutes of Board meetings, minutes of General Membership Meetings, Financial Reports, Newsletters, documentation of the congresses, (programmes, lists of participants etc), Membership Directories, IRSCL publications (proceedings etc.), a record of Board members and recipients of the IRSCL Award and Research Grant as well as important correspondence or general documents relating to IRSCL activities. Any documents which contained personal information - membership application forms, applications for travel grants etc. - would no longer be kept in the Archives.
A graduate student, Sonja Müller, who was paid a modest fee for her work, and Emer went through every file and box, sorting and weeding and organizing material into units (individual Board meetings, congresses etc.). Each unit was put into a file envelope and the envelopes for each term of office into a Box File. A list of contents was drawn up, and the box labeled (as can be seen on the photos of the Archive). The result is an Archive with 22 numbered boxes, as well as Magazine Files containing congress proceedings. 17 of the boxes hold the documents from the terms of office of each Board from the first meeting in 1970 up to the last General Membership Meeting in 2003, 4 boxes contain correspondence from the early days of 1970-1978, and one box (Box Number 1) is for the Archive documentation and comprises a copy of the list of contents of each archive box, lists of the Presidents of the Society, the congresses (dates, places, topics), published proceedings, recipients of the IRSCL Award, recipients of the Grant, and IRSCL Fellows (Honorary Members) - in other words a potted documentation of the Society.
In the course of the work described above, several gaps were identified - some of them fairly gaping. Members of previous Boards were requested to send missing material, and many of them generously did. It will be the responsibility of every future Board to collect and order their own material and send it to the Archives. A checklist of material and how it should be sent has been drawn up and can found on the IRSCL website.
The Archives in Frankfurt are open to all members of the IRSCL by prior appointment.
Regina Jaekel (R.Jaekel@em.uni-frankfurt.de)
Institut für Jugendbuchforschung
J. W. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt