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					Arrangement and Description

       A brief introduction to archival
  arrangement and descriptive standards
            November 10, 2006
History: Archives v.
             Archives and Records
   Dutch Manual - Provenance and
    Original Order
   Jenkinson: Manual of Archival
    Administration "sanctity of evidence"
History: Archives v.
            Archives and Records
   US early 20th century “Public Archives“
   Public Records - land deeds, vital
   Professional Historians
   Description – National Archives
    descriptive inventories based on
History: Archives v.
   Oliver Wendell Holmes: Five Levels of
    arrangement for National Archives
   Hierarchical scheme:
   Depository
   Record Group/Collection
   Series
   File Unit
   Item
History: Archives v.
            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.
   1st cataloging rules for MSS developed in
    1888 at Mass. Historical Society.
   Leadership by Library of Congress MSS
   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.
   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
   1990s: Internet and mounting of Finding
   EAD mid-late 1990s
   Structure but still no real content
History: Standards

         DACS - 2004
DACS Principle 1

Records in archives possess
 unique characteristics.
DACS Principle 2:
   The principle of respect des
    fonds is the basis of archival
    arrangement and description.
DACS Principle 3:

   Arrangement involves the
    identification of groupings
    within the material.
DACS Principle 4:

   Description reflects
DACS Principle 5:
   Description applies to all
    archival materials regardless of
    form or medium.
DACS Principle 6

   The principles of archival
    description apply equally to
    records created by corporate
    bodies and by individuals or
DACS Principle 7:
   Archival descriptions may be
    presented in a variety of outputs
    and with varying levels of detail.
DACS Principle 7.1:

   Levels of description correspond
    to the levels of arrangement.
DACS Principle 7.2:

   Relationships between levels of
    description must be clearly
DACS Principle 7.3:

   Information provided at each
    level of description must be
    appropriate to that level.
DACS Principle 8:
   The creators of archival materials, as
    well as the materials themselves, must
    be described.
   Except when the Collector is the
Level or units of description
   Subgroup
   Series
   Subseries
   File
   Item
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
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 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 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
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
   For organizational records (and many
    collections of personal papers)
    preserving original order is ideal:
   Preserves context
   Doesn’t screw things up for future
   Less Work!
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 Order
   Personal Papers:
   Can be more challenging at first glance
   But there are common document types
Arrangement: Standard
   Biographical
   Correspondence (or other types of
   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 Series
   Other "Standard" Series for other types
    of collections?
Arrangement Strategies:
   Survey entire collection first, break down into
   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.
   Frank Notestein
   Ragnar Nurkse
   Development and Resources
   Don’s examples
   Greene/Meissner and others:
   After arranging into series, then you’re

   If Arranging below the series level:
   Continue with hierarchy: subseries, file,
    or item

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