Archives and Records Management Resources

Listed here glossary, produced by the then National Archives and Records provider in 1984 for a contemporary Archives Reader: Basic Readings on Archival Theory and Practice, is supplied about this internet site as a help to people not really acquainted with common archival terms. These definitions aren’t legitimately binding plus don’t express NARA policy. The updated and much more comprehensive A Glossary for Archivists, Manuscript Curators, and Records Managers, published by Lewis J. Bellardo and Lynn Lady Bellardo, had been posted in 1992 and could be bought through the community of American Archivists.

Archival terminology is a versatile band of typical terms which have obtained specialized definitions for archivists. Since World War II, archivists global have actually dedicated attention that is considerable the meaning of the terms. In 1964, a international lexicon of archival terminology had been posted. (1) This dictionary in 6 languages, the job of a committee associated with Global Council on Archives, provides a foundation for worldwide contrast of archival terms.

The community of American Archivists published its very own glossary of archival terms in 1974 after years of debate, drafting, and review. (2) Definitions when you look at the SAA glossary have already been commonly accepted whilst the foundation for conversation of archival terminology in united states and now have been the kick off point for subsequent efforts to define American archival terms. Since book for the SAA glossary, nevertheless, numerous archivists have actually determined that a number of its definitions need revision and that additional terms must certanly be included. Instructors of archives management and authors of fundamental archival texts, consequently, allow us their glossaries that are own revise, enhance, or expand the 1974 work. At present, no glossary that is single of terms can be viewed as definitive. (3)

The absolute most commonly used archival terms are the ones that describe documentary materials and archival organizations. Documentary materials could be characterized as “records,” “personal documents,” or “artificial collections” on such basis as whom created and maintained the papers as well as just exactly just what function. (4) reports are papers in almost any kind which can be made or gotten and maintained by a company, whether federal federal government agency, church, company, college, or any other organization. A business’s records typically might include copies of letters, memoranda, reports, reports, photographs, along with other materials generated by the business along with incoming letters, reports received, memoranda off their workplaces, along with other papers maintained into the company’s files.

In comparison to documents, individual documents are manufactured or gotten and maintained by a person or household along the way of residing. Diaries, news clippings, individual monetary documents, photographs, communication received, and copies of letters written and delivered by the person or family members are one of the materials typically present in personal documents.

Usually, documents and individual documents have now been considered distinct entities, each with obviously definable traits. The physical qualities of records and personal papers have become more alike, however, and archivists increasingly have emphasized the similarities between these materials rather than their differences in the twentieth century. (5) In specific, today’s archivists observe that both documents and papers that are personal figures of interrelated materials which were brought together due to their function or usage. Archivists respect and look for to keep the relationships that are established individual things in categories of documents plus in individual documents. (6)

Synthetic collections are basically various both from documents and from personal documents. In place of being normal accumulations, synthetic collections are comprised of individual things purposefully put together from many different sources. Because synthetic collections comprise papers from numerous sources, archivists may elect to improve established relationships to be able to enhance control or access.

Archival organizations are termed either “archives” or repositories that are”manuscript based on the kinds of documentary material they contain and just how it really is obtained. “Archives” typically were those organizations in charge of the care that is long-term of historic documents for the company or organization of that they are part. (7) numerous archives are general general public organizations accountable for the documents of continuing worth of a federal federal government or government human body. The National Archives of this united states of america together with Public Archives of Canada are types of general general general public archives during the nationwide degree. Public archives additionally can be available at every single other level of federal federal federal government, including state or province, county, and municipal amounts. Nonpublic or nongovernmental archives worry when it comes to documents of every other company or organization of that they are a component. Church archives, for instance, administer the historic records of the religious denomination or congregation. University archives have the effect of documents of this university’s management. Archives get historical product through the action of legislation or through interior regulation that is institutional policy.

“Manuscript repositories” are archival institutions primarily accountable for individual documents, synthetic collections, and records of other businesses. Manuscript repositories purchase or look for contributions of materials to that they haven’t any right that is necessary. They consequently must report the transfer of materials by deed of present or by other appropriate agreement.

The distinctions between archives and manuscript repositories could be exactly stated, yet few archival institutions are merely “archives” or “manuscript repositories.” Most archives hold some papers that are personal documents of other organizations. Perhaps the National Archives for the united states of america accounts for a group that is small of personal documents and nongovernment documents. Likewise, many manuscript repositories act as the archives of these very own organizations. In recognition of the, the expression “archives” slowly has obtained broader meaning for a few archivists and it is employed by them in mention of any archival institution. This trend is accelerated by way of your message “archives” or “archive” within the names of some organizations that in days gone by could have been termed “manuscript repositories.” (8)

Modern archival terminology provides a helpful and necessary method of specialized communication in the archival occupation. Its terms could be precise enough to preserve crucial distinctions among kinds of materials and archival organizations, yet its use may also be adequately versatile to mirror the changing nature of record materials and developments within the administration of archival organizations. Once the archival occupation grows and matures so that as brand new technologies and documents news impact the training of archives management, both the accuracy and freedom of archival terminology will turn out to be of continuing advantage to archivists.


This glossary of widely used archival terms is located in component on and attracts a few definitions from “A Basic Glossary for Archivists, Manuscript Curators, and Records Managers,” published by Frank B. Evans, Donald F. Harrison, and Edwin A. Thompson (The United states Archivist 37 July 1974: 415-433). The glossary includes many crucial archival terms with specific definitions. Terms which can be acceptably described in dictionaries; technical manuscript, documents administration, and conservation terms; and terms associated with automatic information processing aren’t included.

ACCESS The archival term for authority to get information from or even to perform research in archival materials.

ACCESSION (v.) To transfer real and appropriate custody of documentary materials to an institution that is archival. (n.) Materials utilized in an archival institution in an accessioning action that is single.

ACCRETION An addition to an accession.

PURCHASE The process of determining and acquiring, by contribution or purchase, historic materials from sources outside the archival organization.

ADMINISTRATIVE VALUE the worth of documents for the business that is ongoing of agency of documents creation or its successor in function.

APPRAISAL The process of determining whether documentary materials have actually enough value to justify purchase by an institution that is archival.

ARCHIVAL INSTITUTION an organization keeping appropriate and real custody of noncurrent documentary materials determined to have permanent or continuing value. Archives and manuscript repositories are archival organizations.

ARCHIVAL VALUE the worthiness of documentary materials for continuing conservation within an archival institution.

ARCHIVES (1) The noncurrent documents of an institution or organization preserved for their continuing value. (2) The agency accountable for picking, preserving, and making available documents determined to own permanent or value that is continuing. (3) The building by which an archival organization is situated.

ARCHIVES MANAGEMENT The expert handling of an archival organization through application of archival concepts and practices.

ARCHIVIST The staff that is professional inside an archival organization accountable for any facet of the selection, conservation, or utilization of archival materials.

ARRANGEMENT The process that is archival of documentary materials prior to archival concepts.

GATHERING POLICY A policy established by the archival organization concerning subject matter, cycles, and formats of materials to find for contribution or purchase.

COLLECTION (1) an synthetic accumulation of materials specialized in a theme that is single person, event, or kind of document obtained from many different sources. (2) In a manuscript repository, a human body of historic materials associated with a person, household, or company.

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT The process to build an institution’s holdings of historic materials through acquisition tasks.

CONTINUOUS CUSTODY (1) In modern U.S. use, the archival principle that to ensure archival integrity, archival materials should either be retained by the producing organization or transferred custom writing right to an institution that is archival. (2) In Uk use, the concept that noncurrent documents should be retained by the organization that is creating its successor in function to be looked at archival.

CUBIC FEET (or METERS) a measure that is standard of amount of archival materials in line with the level of area they occupy.

DEED OF PRESENT A legal document accomplishing contribution of documentary materials to an archival institution through transfer of name.

DEPOSIT AGREEMENT a document that is legal for deposit of historic materials in real custody of an archival organization while legal title into the materials is retained because of the donor.

DESCRIPTION the entire process of developing intellectual control of holdings of an archival organization through planning of finding aids.

DISPOSITION The final action that sets into impact the outcome of a assessment choice for a number of documents. Transfer to an archival institution, transfer to a documents center, and destruction are among possible dispositions.

DISPOSITION SCHEDULE guidelines regulating retention and disposition of current and noncurrent recurring documents variety of a company or agency. Also referred to as a RECORDS CONTROL SCHEDULE.

REPORT Recorded information irrespective of kind or medium with three fundamental elements: base, impression, and message.

DONATED HISTORICAL MATERIALS historic materials moved to an archival organization through a donor’s gift in place of prior to legislation or regulation.

EVIDENTIAL VALUE the worthiness of documents or documents as paperwork of this operations and activities associated with organization that is records-creating organization, or specific.

FIELD PERFORM The activity of distinguishing, negotiating for, and securing historic materials for the archival institution.

FINDING AID A description from any supply providing you with information on the articles and nature of documentary materials.

HOLDINGS All materials that are documentary the custody of an archival organization including both accessioned and deposited materials.

INFORMATIONAL VALUE the worth of documents or documents for information they have on individuals, places, topics, and things aside from the procedure of this company that created them or the tasks for the person or household that created them.

INTRINSIC VALUE The term that is archival those characteristics and faculties of forever valuable documents which make the records within their initial real form truly the only archivally acceptable form associated with documents.