case western reserve university



Glossary of Archival Terminology

Access Policy The official statement defining which records are available for use under what conditions.
Accession Number The unique number assigned to an accession.
Accessioning The process of accepting custody and establishing initial intellectual and physical control of documents transferred to the Archives.
Active Records Records regularly used for the conduct of the current business of their creator.
Active Retention Period The time period during which records are regularly used to conduct current business and should remain available for immediate retrieval.
Administrative Value 1) Length of time records are needed for program management, e.g., status and trend reporting, planning, etc., to support administrative consistency and continuity; 2) The usefulness of records for the conduct of current and/or future administrative business.
Appraisal The process by which an archivist determines the administrative, legal, fiscal, historical and long-term research value of records and selects records for retention in the archives.
Archives An organization's non-current records, controlled by provenance, and retained for their continuing value in providing 1) evidence of the activities of the organization, or 2) information about entities affected by the organization.
Archivist A person professionally educated, trained, and engaged in the administration of archival materials.
Box List A list of the folder titles housed in one or more containers.
Case Files Files which document a fixed set of transactions executed across a defined population, generally using standardized forms to conduct and record those transactions. Each file contains the same kinds of records that result from the same set of activities. The files are differentiated from one another by the distinct cases they document.
Copyright The right vested by law in the author of a work and his/her heirs or assignees to publish or reproduce the work or to authorize publication or reproduction of a work.
Current In records scheduling, the current year, either fiscal, academic or calendar, which can trigger the beginning of the retention period. For example, Current + 3 years.
Disposition A range of processes associated with implementing records retention, destruction, and preservation decisions.
Disposition Schedule An inventory of document classes or record series, which summarizes the form, function, and content of the class; identifies the unit responsible for maintaining the record copy of each class; and determines when each document class is destroyed or archived, i.e., its retention period (also known as retention schedule).
Document A coherent set of data structured to present a line of reasoning or to report on an activity.
Finding Aids The descriptive tools produced by the Archives to establish physical and intellectual control over archival materials.
Fiscal Value 1) Length of time records are needed to document the expenditure of funds or to fulfill financial obligations; 2) The worth of records for the conduct of current or future financial business and/or as evidence thereof.
Historical Value Records which document significant aspects of the University’s development; its mission, programs, significant events, personalities, societal relationships.
Inactive Records Records no longer needed by their creator to conduct current business.
Inactive Retention Period Length of time records are to be retained after their active retention period has ended, generally to satisfy external requirements.
Legal Value 1) Length of time records are needed as evidence of legal rights or obligations or to demonstrate compliance with legal and regulatory requirements; 2) The worth of records for the conduct of current or future legal business and/or as legal evidence thereof.
Office of Origin The corporate body or administrative unit in which a group of records are created or received in the conduct of its business.
Office of Record The organizational unit responsible for maintaining the record copy.
Operational Value Length of time records are needed for day-to-day program operation.
Personal Papers The private documents accumulated by or belonging to an individual.
Preservation The on-going maintenance of archival materials through proper storage and handling to ensure their survival for use.
Processing The activities of appraising, arranging, describing and preserving archival materials.
Project Files Files which document a specific action, event or project. They have a clear beginning and end date.
Provenance The organization or individual that created, accumulated, and/or maintained and used records in the conduct of business prior to their transfer to the Archives.
Provenance (Principle of) The principle that records/archives of the same provenance must not be intermingled with those of any other provenance; frequently referred to as respect des fonds.
Reading Room The area in the Archives where archival materials are consulted by researchers under the supervision of and with the assistance of archivists.
Record Recorded information created or received in the conduct of an institutional activity and that comprises sufficient content, context, and structure to provide proof or evidence of that activity.
Record Copy Official copy of a document.
Record Series A group of records that are related as a result of being created, received, or used in the same activity or because they have the same form
Records Disposition Program The systematic control of all records from their creation, or receipt, through their processing, distribution, organization, storage and retrieval to their ultimate disposition (also known as records management program).
Records Release The document recording the transfer of records custody
from the office of origin to the Archives.
Reference Copy The copy of the document used primarily for consultation
purposes (also known as convenience copy).
Retention Period The length of time records should be kept to satisfy administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or other purposes.
Screening The examination of archival materials to determine the presence of documents or information subject to restricted access.
Subject Files Files organized by topics containing documents concerning a wide variety of ongoing functions and activities.
Substantive Support Materials Records that add to an understanding of the thought processes or intent of the activities, showing the process by which conclusions were drawn.
Transfer The physical and legal transfer of documents to the Archives.
Transitory Materials Random notes, preliminary drafts, logistics documents that do not add significantly to an understanding of the activity to which they pertain.
University Records Records created or received in conducting university activities; see also record.
Vital Records Records necessary to resume operations in the event of disruption.

Bellardo, Lewis Jr. and Lynn Lady Bellardo. A Glossary for Archivists, Manuscript Curators, and Records Managers. (Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 1992)
Glossary of Records Management Terms (ARMA International, 1989)
Guidelines on Best Practices for Using Electronic Information (DLM-Forum, 1997)
Ham, F. Gerald. Selecting and Appraising Archives and Manuscripts. (Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 1993)
Maher, William J. The Management of College and University Archives. (New Jersey and London: The Society of American Archivists and the Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1992)
Pederson, Ann, editor. Keeping Archives. (Australian Society of Archivists, Inc., 1987)
Records Management. Box 1 Operating Manual, Subject: Record Retention and Disposition, n.d.
Yakel, Elizabeth. Starting an Archives. (Lanham, MD and London: The Society of American Archivists and the Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1994)