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Abstract

In 2008, the Columbia University Libraries EAD Working Group developed workflows for creating EAD finding aids for newly processed collections. These work flows utilized a robust technical infrastructure for managing the EAD files and designed an attractive web presentation for the finding aids. These goals were achieved in 2009. In 2010, the archives unit at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML), Columbia University decided to apply these workflows to the conversion of all paper based and scanned finding aids into EAD. The RBML project addressed inconsistent descriptive practices, corrected outdated information, ensured DACS compliance and provided enhanced search tools for researchers. 1 Converted in 2012, the “Charles T. Cotton Diaries, 1850-1877” finding aid represents a fine example from this program. Charles Cotton (1824-1877), a diarist and Washington, D.C. based federal clerk was born in Natchez, Mississippi. Although Cotton’s 15 pocket diaries cover his experiences from 1850 to 1877, the most interesting entries concern the Civil War years, for example his description of the U.S. Capital’s fear of Confederate invasion. Cotton also writes about his personal visit with President Abraham Lincoln, his presence at Lincoln’s second inauguration, and the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. He also portrays the District of Columbia’s joy at Richmond’s fall and the gloom over President Lincoln’s assassination. Finally, Cotton depicts his attendance at the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy Trial and communicates his thoughts about the accused plotters.

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