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Arrangement and Description. A brief introduction to archival arrangement and descriptive standards November 10, 2006. History: Archives v. Manuscripts. Archives and Records Dutch Manual - Provenance and Original Order Jenkinson: Manual of Archival Administration "sanctity of evidence".

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arrangement and description

Arrangement and Description

A brief introduction to archival arrangement and descriptive standards

November 10, 2006

history archives v manuscripts
History: Archives v. Manuscripts

Archives and Records

  • Dutch Manual - Provenance and Original Order
  • Jenkinson: Manual of Archival Administration "sanctity of evidence"
history archives v manuscripts1
History: Archives v. Manuscripts

Archives and Records

  • US early 20th century “Public Archives“
  • Public Records - land deeds, vital records
  • Professional Historians
  • Description – National Archives descriptive inventories based on Provenance
history archives v manuscripts2
History: Archives v. Manuscripts
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes: Five Levels of arrangement for National Archives
  • Hierarchical scheme:
  • Depository
  • Record Group/Collection
  • Series
  • File Unit
  • Item
history archives v manuscripts3
History: Archives v. Manuscripts

Manuscripts Tradition

  • In US practices for handling mss developed earlier and separately.
  • Preserving "greater and lesser deeds of great men"
  • Collecting and publishing.
history archives v manuscripts4
History: Archives v. Manuscripts
  • 1st cataloging rules for MSS developed in 1888 at Mass. Historical Society.
  • Leadership by Library of Congress MSS division
  • practices focused on item-level cataloging and analysis of use of card catalogs for access that paralleled emerging bibliographic standards for books.
history archives v manuscripts5
History: Archives v. Manuscripts
  • Through 1970s archivists and manuscripts librarians maintained separate approaches.
  • Introduction of computers as access tools and introduction MARC
  • MARC AMC - 1983
  • APPM – 1983
history standards
History: Standards
  • 1990s: Internet and mounting of Finding Aids
  • EAD mid-late 1990s
  • Structure but still no real content standard
dacs principle 1
DACS Principle 1

Records in archives possess unique characteristics.

dacs principle 2
DACS Principle 2:
  • The principle of respect des fonds is the basis of archival arrangement and description.
dacs principle 3
DACS Principle 3:
  • Arrangement involves the identification of groupings within the material.
dacs principle 4
DACS Principle 4:
  • Description reflects arrangement.
dacs principle 5
DACS Principle 5:
  • Description applies to all archival materials regardless of form or medium.
dacs principle 6
DACS Principle 6
  • The principles of archival description apply equally to records created by corporate bodies and by individuals or families
dacs principle 7
DACS Principle 7:
  • Archival descriptions may be presented in a variety of outputs and with varying levels of detail.
dacs principle 7 1
DACS Principle 7.1:
  • Levels of description correspond to the levels of arrangement.
dacs principle 7 2
DACS Principle 7.2:
  • Relationships between levels of description must be clearly indicated.
dacs principle 7 3
DACS Principle 7.3:
  • Information provided at each level of description must be appropriate to that level.
dacs principle 8
DACS Principle 8:
  • The creators of archival materials, as well as the materials themselves, must be described.
  • Except when the Collector is the Repository.
level or units of description
Level or units of description
  • Subgroup
  • Series
  • Subseries
  • File
  • Item
levels of description
Levels of description
  • Subgroup
  • A body of related records within a record group or a collection, each corresponding to an administrative subdivision in the originating organization.
levels of description1
Levels of description
  • Series
  • Files or documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, have a particular form, or because of some the relationship acting out of their creation, receipt, or use.
levels of description2
Levels of description
  • Subseries
  • A subseries defined as an aggregate of files units within a series, readily separable in terms of physical class, type, form, subject, or filing arrangement.
  • Large series often subdivide into subseries; subseries may be further split into files or (or filing units).
levels of description3
Levels of description
  • File
  • An organized group of documents gathered together because they relate to the same subject, activity, or transaction.
  • Files should not be confused with folders, which are physical units.
  • A file may contain several folders or one folder.
levels of description4
Levels of description
  • Item
  • A single item or document.
  • Arrangement into series is key step.
  • Function
  • Subject/Topic
  • Result from same activity (writings, teaching, etc, may also be specific positions/occupations for - Secretary of State )
  • Have a particular form/genre
arrangement original order
Arrangement: Original Order
  • For organizational records (and many collections of personal papers) preserving original order is ideal:
  • Preserves context
  • Doesn’t screw things up for future processors
  • Less Work!
arrangement original order1
Arrangement: Original Order
  • What if there is no original order?
  • Represent Admin. Structure/Hierarchy of the organization.
  • Ideally, represent different functions of the organization.
arrangement original order2
Arrangement: Original Order
  • Personal Papers:
  • Can be more challenging at first glance
  • But there are common document types
arrangement standard series
Arrangement: Standard Series
  • Biographical
  • Correspondence (or other types of communication)
  • Financial/Medical Information
  • Writings (or other "Creations")
  • Roles, Occupations, Activities
  • Research Files/Subject Files/Field Notes/
  • Topical Files/Miscellaneous
  • Format - Photographs/AV/Size
  • (Chronological Arrangement May Also Work)
arrangement standard series1
Arrangement: Standard Series
  • Other "Standard" Series for other types of collections?
arrangement strategies
Arrangement Strategies:
  • Survey entire collection first, break down into categories.
  • Do an arrangement list and processing plan. Share with your supervisor (or Curator?)
  • Avoid over-thinking and re-thinking:
  • Give yourself a time-frame, make informed decision (to the best of your ability), then stick to them.
arrangement examples scenarios
Arrangement examples/Scenarios?
  • Frank Notestein
  • Ragnar Nurkse
  • Development and Resources Corporation
  • Don’s examples
  • Greene/Meissner and others:
  • After arranging into series, then you’re done!
  • If Arranging below the series level:
  • Continue with hierarchy: subseries, file, or item