WPHC Numbering System

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'Unit paper' system

When the bones were found on Nikumaroro in 1940, the filing system apparently assigned a number in sequence to each new item, followed by a slash and the year.

The bones file was identified as 4439th item entered into the files in 1940: WPHC 4 Vol 2 IV MP 4439/1940 (G&E).

Topical indexes were created long after the materials were received--if they were drawn up at all.

There was evidently another method of identifying files as well, as illustrated below: an Arabic numeral, a Roman numeral, and a concluding Arabic numeral (e.g., 19/III/8).

Change in the WPHC filing system (1941-1942)

1230359 19/III/8 Jardine's Report, 6 November 1941.
Criticism: The Secretary does things that should normally be done by "the Assistant Secretary or a junior assistant." "In a number of cases files are marked 'bring up' for review at a later date as he has not the time to ascertain whether action on the file is finally complete."
"The registration system is of an obsolete pattern and has expanded from what is known as the 'unit paper' system. It operates on an annual series of numbers and demands a much greater staff than the present if it is to function efficiently. The working of the system has been slowed down as the clerks have been unable to maintain a running subject index for the years 1936 onwards. Outward correspondence is bound, annually, in volumes relating to the various territories; each volume is indexed by the typist ..."
"I recommend that the present system of registration be abolished and that a subject file system be

instituted in its place."

The burden on the office is illustrated by the fact that Tofiga was working 20 hours a week overtime in 1941.

New "subject file" system (1942-1942)

  • Daily record: recorded under date of origin.
  • File Register: The register is arranged in accordance with the subject classification. Under 52 medical, for example, the first medical file opened will bear the number F.52/1, the next F.52/2 and so on. The present method of titling a file under the "Keyword" principle should be followed.
  • Subsidiary questions arising from the mail file are registered as sub-files F.52/16/1, 52/16/2 etc.
  • Card files are to be made up. Each Card is to contain the exact subject heading and be filed alphabetically, not numerically.

1229377 F.74/5

Vaskess replies to Jardine that there has been too much turnover in the office and no one officer has been able to master the filing system.

1229377 F.74/5/1 High Commission Office Filing System:-- Reorganization of.

From now on, files will be organized in "book file" order--first entry to last, from top to bottom, and not in the old style, where notes were on one side and inclusions on the other, with most recent inclusions on top and earliest on the bottom.

"The last officer using the file will be responsible for writing a direction for future action, such as B.U. ["bring up"] or put away. The term "put away" or the letters "P.A." will be used in future instead of "file" when all action on a paper is complete." 12 May 1944 / 14 January 1945

1227573 WPHC 27/XXVI/46 Correspondence 2 Jan 1942 to 24 July

The new filing system is in place. On p. 8, Jan 10, 1942, the letter is categorized as P.F. 34. The next entry like it is on p. 15, 14 January 1942: S.F.9/6. The references to files vary like that through the whole volume.

Tofiga: If a paper came in and no old file was found, a new file would be opened. Perhaps there is a second bones file from after the changeover in the numbering system. Some files were given new numbers, some weren't. Vaskess didn't like the change in the system.

WPHC Archive call numbers

Each box of files in the WPHC Archives has been given a unique numeric identifier (e.g., 12275733). In the finding aids, that number is followed by a second identifier derived from the original "unit paper" or "subject file system" in use by the office when the file was created.