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Archives and Archival Resources

Information about locating and conducting research in archives.

Fundamental Vocabulary

Archives – 1) Materials created by an individual, family, or organization during the conduct of their affairs and that are preserved as evidence; 2) organization that collects the records of an individual, family, or organization; 3) the building housing archival collections.

Collection – A group of materials that are unified by some charateristic such as a subject, medium, or name of a collector.

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) – Standard format that is used to encode finding aids.

Finding Aid – A tool that contains information about a records or collection of records that helps make this information discoverable.

Fonds – All of the records created and accumulated by a specific individual, family, or organization.

Holdings – Term referring to the entire inventory of archival records at a specific archival institution.

Original Order – The organization and sequence of records established by the creator of the records.

Provenance – The fundamental principle of archives that refers to either the creator (individual, family, organization) of the collection or the individual, family, or organization that received the items comprising the collection.

Records – Information created by an individual, family, corporation, or government body during the activity of an individual or institution and preserved as evidence of that activity.

Record Group – A large grouping of records within a collection.

Respect des fonds – The principle of archives that dictates records of different provenance be kept separate in order to preserve their context. 

Scope and Content Note – Summary of the range and topical coverage of a collection that often includes the form of materials in the collection, how they are organized, the names of significant individuals, organizations, places, subjects, and events.

Series – A body of materials within a record group that are related and document the same activity or similar theme.