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In the Archive
Finding primary source material in databases is not always intuitive. Here are some terms that material may be categorized under. These terms can help with searching or understanding finding aids.
Archives and special collection libraries often use different vocabularly when describing their collections. Many of these terms are not intuitive and may confuse new users. This glossary should help provide some context for the most used terms.
Abstract - A concise summart of the key points of a larger work, often used to assist the researcher in determining if the work will be of use.
Archival Collection - A set of archival materials, sometimes assembled by person, organization, repository, format, or theme. May be a compilation of materials from different sources and of unrelated format.
Accession Number - A number or code assigned to identify a group of records or material acquired by a repository and used to link the materials to associated records.
Box - A container approproate for the long-term storage of archival materials. Size and content may vary but in general the boxes are the size of a document box. This can be used to comprehend the size of a collection as many archives list the number of boxes within a collection.
Bulk Dates - The earliest and latest dates of the majority of materials within a particular collection. These can differ from inclusive dates and are useful when inclusive dates are misleading.
Call Number/ Collection ID - A unique combination of letters and numbers used to identify an item or collection to allow retrieval and organized storage. These can be seen within catalogs and usually need to be provided to repositories when requesting materials.
Finding Aid/ Collection Guide - A description that consists of contextual information about an archival resource. It usually consolidates information about a collection including acquisition, provenancs, history, scope of collection, etc.
Inclusive Dates - The dats of the odest and most recent items in a collection, series or folder.
Linear Feet - Used in an archive to measure the size of a collection, a measurement of 12 inches. Rather that state the size of a collection by the number of items it contains, archives note collection size by describing the physical space it occupies.
Manuscript/ mss. - A manuscript often reders to a handwritten or unpublished document such as a letter, diary, or personal notes. It may also refer to an author's draft of a book or article. The comonly used abbreviation is mss.
Papers - Used to identify archival materials, usually records created and originally kept by an individual or family.
Provenance - Information that details the origin, custody, and ownership of an item or collection.
Repository - A space or institution focused on the care and storage or items. Used to describe both the physical space of stored items, digital and physical, or the organization that controls those items. It can be used as a descriptor for an archive.
Series - A group of similar records arranged according to a filing system that are related as a result of being created, recieved, or used in teh same activity. Each item has its own title, also bearing a collective title for the group as a whole.
The IUB libraries and the Campus Writing Program provide detailed information on creating reference citations within style guides like MLA, APA, and Chicago. Available here are links to their style guides and published information on citations.