Outline of the Categories of Information
Building a Common Framework for Catalogue Entries
Implementing a Common Framework
Organization of the Guidelines
Subjects/Built Works
People/Corporate Bodies
Geographic Locations
Bibliographic Sources
Group Entries
Volume (Sketchbook) Entry
Item Entries
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A Guide to the Description of Architectural Drawings

Groups/Items Categories:

Descriptive Note

Category: Descriptive Note

Potentially, an essay-like text that describes the content and context of the group or item. Possible topics vary, depending on:
  • The circumstances under which the documents were generated and used
  • The arrangement of a group
  • The significance of the material
  • Events to which the documents are specifically related
  • Unusual features of the documents
  • Any significant physical characteristics
  • Issues relating to dating, attribution, provenance, and subject identification

Descriptive Note allows for a narrative text that supplements, explains, integrates, and qualifies information recorded elsewhere in the entry, e.g., former attributions and alternative identifications of subjects. It can also accommodate any significant information that may, for practical reasons, not be included elsewhere. It provides a mental picture of the group or item as a whole by highlighting its significant aspects.

This note is not regarded as an access point, and for this reason terminology need not be controlled. Any information of significance that appears here should also be recorded in the appropriate access point category.

Minimally, the descriptive note may consist of a sentence or two that summarizes what is known about the group or item. In fuller form, it may resemble a catalogue raisonné entry. The level of detail will depend on repository policy, the relative significance of the group or item, and the resources available for cataloguing.

The cataloguer should bear in mind that retrieval of the record will not be effective through this category, since in most systems terminology (including names) in note categories will not be authority-controlled or structured to allow for broadening or narrowing queries. In other words, researchers will need to have several ways of finding the record before they are able to read the descriptive note. Therefore, if a choice must be made between a core level of retrievable categories and the creation of extensive descriptive notes, the former should be given priority. Any significant people, corporate bodies, subjects, built works, dates, media, techniques, etc. mentioned in a note should be recorded for retrieval in the relevant categories.


[for an item] The window opening at the left is inscribed with dimensions in palmi and oncie. The distance between pilasters and the dimension of the pilasters is also indicated. This drawing and others in the Metropolitan Museum group testify to the care and completeness of the effort of Dupérac and his assistants to record all aspects of Michelangelo's drum and dome of St. Peter's insofar as it had been constructed by the time of his death and as projected in the model.

[for a group]. . . The names of thirteen architects have been indexed in this record; however, many other names, including those of delineators and clients, appear throughout the approximately 3,500 drawings. Names of projects and built works will be indexed in catalogue records for related subseries as cataloguing proceeds in the future. Additional information about Record Group 10 is located in the General Guide to Records of the Department of Public Works, an unpublished finding aid available to users of the Division Research Room. . .

single occurrence