Introduction to Archival Organization and Description

Edited by Susanne R. Warren, with contributions by Michael J. Fox and Peter L. Wilkerson


68 pages

PDF file size: 54.3 MB


An archival collection is a unique body of information, created at a particular time by a particular organization or individual as a result of a particular activity. If the cultural record contained in an archive is to be accessible, the archivist must examine, organize, and describe each collection individually.

Introduction to Archival Organization and Description guides the novice to an understanding of the nature of archival information and documentation. Chapters cover topics such as the characteristics of archival materials, the gathering and analysis of information for archival description, and the implementation of descriptive tools in information systems.

The Introduction To series acquaints professionals and students with the complex issues and technologies in the production, management, and dissemination of cultural heritage information resources.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Part I. Archival Principles, Archival Practices
    • Archival Documentation
      • What is Documentation?
      • Why Document?
      • What Does Archival Documentation Involve?
    • Archival Materials and Information
      • The Nature of Archival Information
      • Principles of Archival Documentation
      • Archival Materials: How Characteristics Shape Practices
  • Gathering and Analyzing Archival Information
    • Assembling Documentation
    • What Information Is Collected?
  • Archival Description
    • Description: Conveying Information to Users
    • Descriptive Tools
    • Archival Information Systems: Delivering the Goods
  • Standards for Archival Description
    • About Standards
    • Different Types of Information Standards
  • Descriptive Standards for Finding Aids
    • Descriptive Standards for Catalog Records
    • Descriptive Standards for Inventories/Registers
  • Archival Processing
    • What Is Processing?
    • Gathering and Analyzing Information
    • Organization and Arrangement
    • Creating Descriptions in the Form of Catalog Records and Inventories/Registers
  • The Future
  • Tutorial: An over-the-shoulder view of an archivist at work
  • Glossary
  • Acronyms
  • Bibliography
  • Web Resources

About the Authors

Michael J. Fox is an archivist at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Peter L. Wilkerson is an archivist at the South Carolina Historical Society.

Susanne R. Warren is an independent consultant.