File Name: arrangement and description of archival materials .zip
Arrangement and description are the critical means by which archivists administer and control their holdings. Archivists view arrangement and description as an ongoing process, a series of linked activities that start with the decision to acquire materials. During accessioning, archivists establish an initial set of internal information systems, which sets the basis for this ongoing process.
Archival processing is the act of surveying, arranging, describing, and performing basic preservation activities on the recorded material of an individual, family, or organization after they are permanently transferred to an archive.
A person engaging in this activity is known as an archival processor, archival technician, or archivist. Ideally, when an archives receives a collection of papers or a group of records, they will have been arranged by the originator the original person, persons, or organization that created or assembled the collection or records and boxed up for the move to the archives in such a way that this order has been preserved.
However, collections and record groups are often semi-organized, and sometimes lack any discernible organization. Observing the organization of delivered materials, imposing organization where it is lacking, then describing the organized material are tasks covered by the terms "archival processing", "arrangement and description", "archival listing", or "cataloguing". The first step in archival processing is to survey the collection.
The goal of a survey is to gain an understanding of the originator, determine the context of the creation of the collection, to observe the material's overall size and scope, to ascertain if the collection has access limitations, to locate any existing finding aids submitted with the collection, and to discover any underlying organizational scheme in the collection or record group.
Collection surveys should be carried out with an archival principle, respect des fonds , in mind. In following respect des fonds , which may be translated as "taking into consideration the entirety of the collection",  the survey must include activity to ascertain whether the materials in hand are all, or only a portion, of the entire fonds.
If the archivist is in a repository that holds other parts of the fonds , he or she should assemble a plan of work that encompasses, or at least acknowledges, the entire set of materials from the same originator.
Surveying collections is a strictly observational task, without making any changes or rearrangements to the materials. Arrangement of materials should be completed with two archival principles that fall within respect des fonds in mind: provenance and original order. According to the principle of provenance, an originator's materials should be maintained together and separated from those of other originators.
Under the rules of provenance, maintenance of the materials must include making them searchable and retrievable together known as their intellectual arrangement and could include keeping them physically together, if it is practical to do so. Additionally, if the materials have changed hands beyond the originator, the provenance of an item includes all those who came after the creator and any changes they make to the collection such as insertions, deletions, rearranging.
According to the principle of original order, the originator's arrangement of the materials holds value, because it reflects how they originally used and accessed the collection, as well as how the records relate to each other, which can both inform the initial purpose of the records.
If arrangement tasks are required, arrangement is the first phase of physically processing the materials after the survey. In addition to rearranging the materials, there may also be weeding of material that does not meet a repository's collecting guidelines, as well as the preservation activities described below. More detailed descriptions than that which results from a collection survey of the material are generally attempted. Beyond the survey, the individual processing the collection may create a listing of the "series"  and "sub-series",  listing of box contents also called box-level description , folder lists folder-level description , or even complete inventories  that include administrative histories or biographical notes, scope notes, acquisition information, and information as to the archival processing treatment the material has received.
The written description of a collection is generically termed a finding aid. The main purpose of a finding aid is to facilitate access to a collection of materials by users,  and can also useful for other archivists who provide reference services to the materials currently and in the future. The earliest finding aids were known as " calendars " and generally consisted of a listing of individual documents in chronological order, which was the preferred organizational method of historians, who were their primary users at the time.
Many archives post their finding aids online to widen exposure to their holdings and some are encoded see Standards section below to facilitate recognition by web search engines. Several standards govern archival description, some national and some international. Other content standards also pertain.
In addition, repositories may follow local practices designed to make finding aids serve their particular mission. Archival processing often includes basic preservation practices such as removing staples and paperclips, placing materials in acid-free folders and boxes, isolating acidic materials to avoid acid migration, photocopying damaged or acidic documents, and unfolding papers.
Greene and Dennis Meissner. Their argument also acknowledges the assumption of proper climate control in modern institutions, which would slow the deterioration of acidic paper and rusting of metal fasteners. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American Archivist. Archived from the original PDF on September 21, Retrieved November 2, Bibliographical foundations of French historical studies.
Haworth Press. Retrieved February Archived from the original on University of Washington Press. The American Archivist. September Categories : Archival science. Hidden categories: Webarchive template wayback links. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.
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Archival processing is the act of surveying, arranging, describing, and performing basic preservation activities on the recorded material of an individual, family, or organization after they are permanently transferred to an archive. A person engaging in this activity is known as an archival processor, archival technician, or archivist. Ideally, when an archives receives a collection of papers or a group of records, they will have been arranged by the originator the original person, persons, or organization that created or assembled the collection or records and boxed up for the move to the archives in such a way that this order has been preserved. However, collections and record groups are often semi-organized, and sometimes lack any discernible organization. Observing the organization of delivered materials, imposing organization where it is lacking, then describing the organized material are tasks covered by the terms "archival processing", "arrangement and description", "archival listing", or "cataloguing". The first step in archival processing is to survey the collection.
We arrange and describe collections to both preserve materials for future use, and to make materials accessible to researchers. By documenting what is held within individual collections in our institution, we can responsibly manage our collections holistically and fulfill our responsibilities as stewards of these unique materials. Arrangement, when used broadly, is the process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical or intellectual control over the materials. Arrangement may or may not include physical arrangement, or sorting, and rehousing materials. Description is data crafted to identify and represent an archival resource or component thereof , created through a process of analyzing, organizing, and recording details about collection materials.
For more information including links to the finding aids for the project collections, see Uncovering Hidden Audiovisual Media. Since the original guidelines were shared in , there have been updates to standards and tools on many fronts — at the archives, the Smithsonian Institution, and in the wider profession — compelling the revisions in the current document. Additional changes to practices in each stage of the processing workflow are found throughout this document. Further updates to the description guidelines are anticipated when EAD3 is adopted at the Smithsonian Institution. The guidelines were written to help archivists with arrangement and description of archival collections containing sound recordings and moving image materials in obsolete analog formats. Each of these chapters was written for local use at the Archives of American Art, but it is hoped that they will be useful to other repositories. Users of these guidelines elsewhere should expect to adapt them to local processing policies, storage practices, descriptive practices, and procedures for research access.
description, and strategies for digital materials. This volume complements. Kathleen D. Roe's Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts (SAA, ).
Throughout history, attempts were made to record culture by people who saw the importance of preserving the knowledge and documents of their own civilization. Preserving for posterity: that desire to chronicle the essence of collective creation, craftsmanship, and enterprise found in the daily struggle to survive on this planet. The degree and nature of this activity varied as did the civilizations, and ranged from simple prehistoric cave paintings to more sophisticated systems evidenced on ancient cuneiform tablets of the Sumerians. Many of those records were found in the ruins of the ancient Mycenaean palace at Pylos and they, like a voice from the past, transmitted a great deal of information about their culture. For instance, the tablets were inscribed with legal records and business inventories, and contained inventories of human chattels, or slaves.
Search Titles Subjects Organizations Collage. Access to Archival Records. A Review of Current Issues. RAMP therefore includes projects, studies and other activities intended:. RAMP activities concentrate on infrastructure development, development of strategies for archival training, assistance in the development of standard setting instruments, protection of the archival heritage, promotion of the development and application of modern information technologies and research in archival theory and practice.
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Sarah Welland, , "Organising archival records: A practical method of arrangement and description for small archives 3rd ed.
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