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New York University Archives: Glossary of Select Archival Terms

This guide will acquaint you with the resources available at the New York University Archives; inform you how to conduct research using these resources.

Some Archival Terms Defined

arrangement - 1. The process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical or intellectual control over the materials. - 2. The organization and sequence of items within a collection.

container listing The part of a finding aid that indicates the range of materials that can be found in each box (or other container) in a collection.

finding aid 1. A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. - 2. A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.

manuscript collection - A collection of personal or family papers.

processed material - A processed collection has been arranged, described and housed for proper storage and use by patrons. 

scope and content note (part of the finding aid) A narrative statement summarizing the characteristics of the described materials, the functions and activities that produced them, and the types of information contained therein.

seriesA group of similar records that are arranged according to a filing system and that are related as the result of being created, received, or used in the same activity. Series may be found within collections.

Definitions adapted from the Society of American Archivists Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology.