Archival arrangement and description – exercise

Using a set of records from the ‘Records’ folder in Assessment 3, or from your records or library placement, or your place of work or a set of records in your family collection, create an archival description in accordance with the ICA’s Standard Archive Description (ISAD(G)) and the Australian Series Registration system, as defined in Describing archives in context (ASA, 2008), using two levels (i.e., series description and item listing). Create an authority record for your records in accordance with the ICA Standard Archival Authority Record – Corporate body, Person, Family (ISAAR-CPF).  You will need to create:

  • one full series description;
  • one full archival authority record;
  • some ‘stub’ or ‘place holder descriptions’ to demonstrate relationships; and,
  • a listing, or item inventory, of two to ten items in your main series.

In essence, you are a junior archivist preparing these documents for approval by a senior manager (the Unit Co-ordinator), prior to their publication or release.

You will be assessed on completing the essential elements identified in the standards and Describing archives, while your choice of optional elements will also be considered. You do not need to complete all elements for all descriptions, but rather tailor the description to the material you have in hand, remembering that information should not be repeated but should be linked, from the broad to the specific. Once you have chosen your material it should be relatively straight forward. If you are using your own material, please provide a brief accession record and some pictures of the material to the Unit Co-ordinator in the Australian series system lecture week.

No word limit has been given for this assessment (partly because of the need to consider field headings, and the length of item titles, etc); however, the biography or administrative history of the main archival authority should be around two to three paragraphs. The scope and content for the series should around one to two paragraphs. In-text citations are required, and the reference list can either be included in the main description field or in a separate ‘sources’ field, as per the standards. Don’t forget to identify the rules and conventions used.

Remember that the archival authority is the person or body responsible for creating or receiving material and keeping it in a record system of some sort prior to its donation or transfer, and is not the archive for which you are working.  Australian series description refers to items, which may be a file, dossier, album, document, plan or plan set, etc. It is important to distinguish this from the use of item, as a lower level description, in the US, UK and Canada.

You may use one of the software programs identified during the course to create your description, or create your own template based on the templates in the assessment folder, in accordance with ISAD(G), ISAAR(CPF) and the Australian Series System as identified in Describing archives in context. If you use a software program, please copy and paste the descriptions into a word compatible format, or save as a word compatible document.  Put the relevant ICA code in the field headings, if they are not already apparent.  If you are using a software system with an export function, please include a copy of the export file.

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