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Archival Processing: Metrics

A guide to processing archival collections


Keep track of your time while processing. This will allow us to track time and effort put into archival processing, and also plan and budget for upcoming processing projects.

The Processing Worksheets contain a simple timesheet you can use to keep track of time spent on various processing tasks. Make sure to note the size of the collection before you start processing, as well as the size at the end of the project.

This excel Timesheet is also available.

Make sure to send your time sheets to the Processing Archivist when submitting the other finding aid worksheets and forms.


In general, using a minimal processing approach, you should be processing collections at 4 hours (or less) per linear foot. To calculate your processing speed: divide the number of hours worked by the original size of the collection (in linear feet). For example, 2 hours spent on a collection consisting of one document box would be: 2 hours / 0.42 linear feet = 4.76 hours/foot. 

Measuring a collection

Paper collections should be measured via the direction of paper being filed. Generally, that is the width or length of a box, but things can get tricky, especially with a flat box. When dealing with an unusual sized flat box, measure the height in inches and divide by 12.

In general:

2.5" doc box = 0.21 Linear feet (LF)
5" doc box = 0.42 LF
7" doc box = 0.58 LF
Records carton (letter size) = 1.25 LF
Records carton (legal size) = 1 LF
3" high flat box = 0.25 LF

When in doubt, ask the Processing Archivist. 

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