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Glossary

Archives

Archives can actually refer to three different things:

  • The historical records themselves
  • The physical place where they are used and preserved
  • The organization that administers them.

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Arrangement

The intellectual and physical operations involved in the analysis and organization of records. Based upon the principle of provenance, and especially the principle of original order, the purpose of arrangement is to group the components of a fonds into an order that reflects the system by which the documents were originally created and used.

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Collection

An artificial accumulation of documents of any provenance brought together on the basis of some common characteristic, e.g., way of acquisition, subject, language, medium, type of document, name of collector, to be treated for description purposes as a descriptive unit under a common title.

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The exclusive right, granted by law, of the creator of a work (or his/her assignees or employers) to make or dispose of copies and otherwise to control the use of a literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, or other work.

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Culling

The removal of non-archival material from file units during the processing of records. The documents removed may be returned to the donor, donated to another archival institution, or destroyed.

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Custodial history

The history of the custody of the material being described, i.e., its successive transfers of ownership and custody.

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Description

The process of recording information about the nature and content of the records in archival custody. The description identifies such features as provenance, extent, arrangement, format, and contents, and presents them in a standardized form.

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Finding aids

Descriptive tools, e.g., registers, guides, inventories, indexes, file/item listings containing information about records in archival custody, that establish administrative, physical, or intellectual control over the holdings of an archives, and make it possible to retrieve particular records or information from these archives.

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Fonds

The whole of the records, regardless of form or medium, automatically and organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular individual, family, or corporate body in the course of that creator's activities or functions.

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Provenance

The person(s) or office(s) of origin of records, i.e., the person(s), family (families), or corporate body (bodies) that created and/or accumulated and used records in the course of that creator's activities or functions.

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Respect des fonds

The principle that the records of a person, family or corporate body must be kept together in their original order, if it exists or has been maintained, and not be mixed or combined with the records of another individual or corporate body.

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Restrictions on access

The conditions governing access to all or part of the material being described, including any laws, regulations, policies, donor terms, or any other relevant access conditions.

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Series

A subdivision of a fonds maintained as an entity because the documents relate to a particular function or subject, result from the same activity, have a particular form, or because of some other relationship arising out of the circumstances of their creation or use.

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Sous fonds

A body of related records within a fonds, usually consisting of the records of an important subordinate administrative unit or family unit. Sous fonds may also be established for related bodies of documents within a fonds that can best be defined in terms of chronological, functional, or geographical relationships. Sous fonds may be divided into as many further levels as are necessary to reflect the hierarchical organizational units within the subordinate administrative unit, or that will assist in grouping series in terms of their relationships.

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Sub series

A group of related material within a series, usually identified by subject, type of material, function, or filing arrangement.

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