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Glossary of Terms

Access -- The archival term for authority to obtain information from or to perform research in archival materials.
 
Access Policy -- The official statement setting out which records and archives are available for access and under what conditions. It should be in writing, and should be available to users and potential users.
 
Accession -- The process of formally accepting and recording the receipt of records into the custody of the University Archives.
 
Accession Number -- The number assigned to materials transferred to an archival institution in a single action.
 
Acid-free -- The chemical characteristic of having a pH of 7.0 or greater. The Archives uses acid-free paper, file folders, and boxes for preservation of permanent records.
 
Administrative History -- That part of the finding aids which describes 1) the history of the office, its/their organizational structure and functional responsibilities, or 2) the highlights of the life and career of a person is also known as a biographic note.
 
Administrative Records -- Records which document the operation and internal administration of an office; used in making administrative decisions and determining policy, or in explaining organizational structure, procedures and operations.
 
Administrative Value -- The value or usefulness of records for the conduct of university business. See Archival Value.
 
Administratively Controlled Information -- Privileged information in records sometimes bearing designations such as "Confidential" or "For official Use Only", to prevent unauthorized disclosure. See also: Restricted Access
 
Appraisal -- The process of determining which records are to be retrained as archives and which are not based on their current historical, administrative, legal and/or fiscal value.
 
Acquisition Policy -- See Collection Development Policy
 
Active Records -- See Current (active) records.
 
Archival Records -- Archival records are those which have enduring value and are preserved for reference and research purposes because they reflect significant events or document the history and development of the University.
Archival Value -- The values that justify the indefinite or permanent retention of records as archives. See: Administrative value; Evidential Value; Fiscal Value; Historical Value; Informational Value and Legal Value.
 
Archive --Those documents of enduring value, which illuminate the development of the mission of the University.
 
Archives -- Those records produced, generated or received and accumulated which illuminate the development of the mission of the University and retained due to their continuing or enduring value. Also, the room which houses the archives collection. A typical archive of institutional records might include publications put out by the institution, annual reports, records of committees, records of individual departments within the organization, correspondence, final reports, photographs and almost any document produced by such an organization.
 
Archives Box -- A storage container made from the heaviest gray finish board (acid-free), with heavy-duty pronged metal edge stay and strong nylon pull string intended to house archival materials.
 
Archives Program -- A specific ongoing plan or operation to manage an archival collection or to identify archival material and arrange its transfer to the Archives.
 
Archivist -- A person professionally responsible for the organization and administration of an archives.
 
Arrangement -- The process and results of putting archives and records into order in accordance with accepted archival principles, particularly those of provenance and original order, at as many as necessary of the following levels: collection, record group, sub-group(s), series, subseries, file unit, and document (item). If there is no original order, the archivist may impose an order that presents the records objectively and facilitates their use. The process usually includes packing, labeling, and shelving of archives and records, and is intended to achieve physical or administrative control and basic identification of the holdings.
 
Artifact -- Objects, not being records, retained in the university archives because of their informational value or their relationship with the records or archives.
 
Box Inventory -- A listing of the contents of all the boxes that comprise a collection, folder by folder; this listing may also include indications of which materials have been moved to oversized boxes or drawers or transferred to other storage areas.
 
Bulk Dates -- Dates of those documents that constitute the largest part of a collection, record group, subgroup, or series. Bulk dates are used to inform researchers of the chronological or period strength of archival materials, particularly when inclusive dates are misleading. (SAA)
 
Classification -- 1) The pre-designate filing system for a record series. 2) The act of identifying documents or records in accordance with pre-designated filing system. y
 
Collection -- 1) An artificial accumulation of documents devoted to a single themes, person, event, or type of record. 2) A body of papers, including associated printed or near-print materials have a common source. These are termed records. 3) In a singular or plural form the total holdings -- accessions and deposits -- of a repository.
 
Collection Development Policy -- An official statement, which identifies the kinds of materials the archives will collect and the conditions or terms which, affect the collection of such materials. It is a basic document for the guidance of archives staff, university community and others in depositing their papers.
 
Confidential Records -- See Administratively Controlled Information
 
Conservation -- The physical aspects and processes of preservation of original archival materials. Preventative conservation (such as acid-free storage) prevents or delays future degradation. Restorative conservation repairs or restores damaged or deteriorated material to its original condition.
 
Container List -- A listing of materials by container, meant to facilitate retrieval.  A container list normally includes the title of the series or file, the portion of the file contained in each container, and the inclusive dates of the materials contained therein. A container list may also include shelf locations for each container. See Folder List. (SAA)
 
Copyright -- The exclusive right, granted by law, of the creator of a work (or his/her assignees or employers) to make or dispose of copies of and otherwise to control the use of a literary, dramatic, musical, artistic or other work. Ownership of copyright in a work does not necessarily pass with ownership of the work itself. The laws relating to copyright are complex and require specialist legal advice
 
Correspondence -- Any form of written communication sent or received in the course of university business, including letters, postcards, memoranda, notes, electronic mail, facsimiles, telegrams, or cables.
 
Creator -- The person, administrative unit, or organization that originates, receives, or assembles records in the course of normal business. See Office of Origin
 
Custody -- The responsibility for the care of records, archives or other material, based on their physical possession.
 
Current (Active) records -- Records which are referred to in the performance of current office operations; required for the day-to-day business of an office.
 
Deed of Gift -- A signed, written instrument containing a voluntary transfer of title to real or personal property without a monetary consideration. Deeds of gift to archives and manuscript repositories frequently take the form of a contract establishing conditions governing the transfer of title to documents and specifying any restrictions on access or use.  
 
Description -- The process of establishing intellectual control over holdings through the preparation of finding aids (i.e., catalogs, inventories, registers, checklists, calendars, special lists, indexes, etc.) The process of recording information about the nature and content of materials in archival custody. The description identifies such features as provenance, arrangement, format and contents, and presents that in a standardized form.
 
Document -- Recorded information regardless of form or medium. A written paper, recording, photograph, computer file, or other item that bears the original, official, or legal form of something and can be used to furnish evidence or information. The smallest complete unit of a record material that is accumulated to form a file -- i.e. a letters to an individual, reports, architectural drawings, photographs, videos, and computer files are all examples of documents. See Archival Records, University Records
 
Donation -- A voluntary deposit of records, involving the transfer of legal ownership as well as custody to the Archives.
 
Donor --A person organization who has donated records to the archives.
 
Enduring Value -- The determination that records are worthy of indefinite or permanent preservation in the University Archives. (Sometimes referred to as Historical, Continuing, Evidential, or Archival Value).
 
Ephemera -- Documents created specifically for a transitory purpose. But which may be retained for their information or as graphic specimens. Advertisements, notices, and tickets are examples of ephemera. (SAA).
 
Evidential Value -- The value of a record that documents the history of an organization. The usefulness of records as the primary evidence of an agency's authority, functions, organization, operations and basic decisions and procedures.
 
File -- An organized unit of documents, accumulated during current use and kept together because they dealt with the same subject, activity or transaction.
 
File Folder -- Filing unit, preferable made from acid-free materials; titles of file folers are listed in the box inventory in a FINDING AID.
 
File Heading -- Information that appears on the label of a guide, folder, or file drawer.
 
Filing -- 1) The arrangement and classification of the information contained in active records for later retrieval. 2) The process of arranging and sorting records so that they may be retrieved rapidly when needed.
 
Filing Unit -- Each word, abbreviation, initial, or numeral used to file information.
 
Finding Aids -- The descriptive tool created by the Archives to establish control over records and other holdings. Basic finding aids include guides, descriptive inventories, accession registers, card catalogs, shelf and box lists and indexes. (SAA)
 
Fiscal Record -- A record that pertains to the receipt, transfers, payment, adjustment or encumbrance of funds and audit requirements.
 
Fiscal value -- The value of records for the conduct of current and future financial business. See Archival Value.
 
Folder List -- A list prepared by the creator or the Archives detailing the titles of folders contained in one or more records cartons or archives boxes/containers. See Container List. (SAA)
 
Format -- The physical medium in which information is recorded or carried, e.g. paper files, computer printouts, photographs, machine-readable records, etc.
 
Historical -- a record that contains adequate and authentic evidence of Villanova University's organization, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities that have permanent value.
 
Historical Value -- See Archival Value.
 
Holdings -- The whole of the archival materials in the custody of the Archives.
 
Inactive records -- Those records no longer required for the conduct of activities and which may therefore be transferred to archival custody.
 
Inclusive Dates -- The earliest and latest dates of record materials being described. These dates are usually the date a record was created or the date a form was completed. See Bulk Dates.
 
Informational Value -- The usefulness of records as the primary source for information about persons, places, events, conditions or things. The value f records for reference or research deriving from the information the records contain, as distinct from their evidential value. Records and archives contain information that has research uses not envisioned by their creators.
 
Intellectual Control -- The control established over the informational content of archives resulting from ascertaining and documenting their provenance, and from the processes of arrangement and description.
 
Intermediate Records -- See Semi-Current (Semi-Active) Records.
 
Inventory -- An inventory is a basic archival finding aid. The inventory usually includes a historical sketch of the institution or division of the institution whose records are being described, a scope and content note, a series description. The series description usually includes title, dates, and quantity of materials, arrangement, relationship to other series and description of significant subject content. The inventory also includes a box and folder list.
 
Item -- 1) The standard component of a series (that is, a file in a series of files; a volume in a series of volumes; etc.) 2) A component in an accession of sufficient size or importance to warrant individual listing in documentation describing the contents of the accession. 3) Sometimes the term is also used as equivalent to document.
 
Legal Record -- A record that contains evidence of legally enforceable rights and obligations of the government or its citizen's contracts, leases, titles to property decisions, and opinions are examples of legal records.
 
Legal Value -- The value of records for the conduct of current and future legal business. See Archival Value.
 
Linear Feet -- A standard measure of the quantity of archival materials on the basis of shelf space occupied or the length of drawers in vertical files or the thickness of horizontally filed materials. For example a moderately full manila folder file is typically ¾ of an inch wide at the bottom. Approximately 16 such folders may equal one linear foot. (12 inches = one foot).
 
Machine Readable Records -- Those records created and maintained in such a way that the information they contain is inaccessible without the aid of the appropriate machine, e.g., sound records (both discs and tapes), video recordings, and computer tapes and discs.
 
Memorabilia -- Individual items of historical value such as programs, posters, brochures, clippings, buttons, pennants, and stickers. See Ephemera.
 
Non-Current (Inactive) Records -- Those records that are no longer required in the conduct of current business of the office of origin. Non-current (inactive) records with permanent value should be transferred to the University Archives.
 
Office of Origin -- The university administrative unit (office) within which a given body of records was originally produced, created or received and accumulated in the course of its principal activity. See Creator.
 
Official Record -- A writing, painting, inscription, or other recording of an act, transaction or event, drawn up, under authority of law, by a proper officer, and designated to remain at the University as evidence of the matter to which it relates. The term is used in contrast with personal papers. See also Personal Papers, Records.
 
Official University Records -- See University Records
 
Original Order -- The order in which records and archives were kept when in active use. The principle of original order requires that the original order be preserved or reconstructed, unless it is absolutely clear that there was no original order and that the records had been accumulated haphazardly.
 
Permanent Records -- Records considered so valuable or unique in documenting the history of an individual, office, department or school of Villanova University that they are preserved in the University Archives.
 
Personal Papers -- The private documents accumulated by an individual, belonging to him or her and subject to his or her disposition. See also Official Record.
 
Physical Control -- The control established over the physical aspects (such as format, quantity and control) of individual records in an accession or series.
 
Preservation -- The totality of processes of operations involved in the stabilization and protection of documents again damage or deterioration and in the treatment of damaged or deteriorate documents. Preservation may also include transfer of information to another medium such as microfilm. (SAA)
 
Privacy -- The rights of a living person to be secure from the unauthorized disclosure of or access to information of private or confidential nature about himself/herself or his/her immediate family contained in records and archives.
 
Processing -- All steps taken in an archival repository to prepare documentary material for access and reference use.
 
Provenance  -- The principle of arrangement according to which each deposit of records should be placed within an overall arrangement or classification scheme that reflects its origin and relation to other deposits from the same administrative body. The person or office of origin of records, i.e. the entity, or person that created or accumulated the records. In archival theory, the principle of provenance requires that the archives of one organization or person not be intermingled with the archives of another. Archives are generally arranged and described on the basis of their provenance.
 
Publications -- Documents created and reproduced for distribution and dissemination (for example: directories, newsletters, and catalogs).
 
Purging -- See Weeding
 
Records -- See Archival Records; University Records
 
Record Group -- University Records that are organizationally grouped together due to their common unit of origin. A record group would normally contain all of the records of one office or department of the institution, such as the records of the office of the President, or Dean, Liberal Arts and Sciences…. These would not be mixed or interfiled with those of another. This term usually applies to the records of an office.
 
Record Series --Documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit in an office because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, have a particular form, or because of some other relationship arising out of creation, receipt or use. Record series are the filing units created by offices at all levels in an institutional hierarchy. Each series will be arranged internally according to a system established and modified by its creators. Typical record series include subject files, project files, chronological correspondence files, applicant files, financial records files, voucher files, and minutes and agenda files. Series contain files that contain documents. Set of documents or other materials maintained in a specified order. Note: The series level pertains to the method or manner used to file materials not to the provenance represented by the Record Group and Subgroup levels of the records hierarchy. An office in the normal course of business creates record series. The archivist does not create them.
 
Records Inventory -- Complete listing of file contents by record series together with sufficient supporting information to enable a proper evaluation of file functions and activities.
 
Records Liaison -- Department and/or office representative who is responsible for organizing and preparing records for transfer to the University Archives and also for completing the Records Transmittal/Inventory Form.
 
Records Management -- The application of systematic and scientific control to recorded information required in the operation of an organization's business. records.
 
Records Transmittal/Inventory Form -- The document used to prepare lists of records transferred to the University Archives.
 
Records Value -- The determination of usefulness of records for historical, administrative, legal, fiscal and/or research needs.
 
Reference Service -- The archival function of providing information about or from archival holdings, and of making such holdings available for official use, or to researchers.
 
Repository -- The room set-aside for the storage of archives and/or intermediate records. Archival repositories are often constructed to meet specific environmental standards designed to ensure the longevity of the records. See Archives.
 
Respect Des Fondes -- Respect for the original order of an accession. Original order should be preserved whenever possible or at documented. The principle of archival arrangement according to which each deposits (fonds) should be maintained as a separate entity, even if other fonds cover the same or similar subjects. It requires archivists to respect the integrity of the body of records at the time it is deposited in the archives.
 
Restricted Access -- A limitation imposed on the use of a body of records (group or series). All records required by law to be maintained or publicly available at their inception will be made available at the University Archives. All other institutional records remain normally closed for a period of 20 years from the date of their creation (the date on which each document was written) unless the office of origin has designated a shorter period. The Board of Trustees Committee minutes and records are restricted for 35 years. Some other records of the University may be restricted for 35 years. Some other records of the University may be restricted for more than 20 years as determined by the office of origin and the University Archivist. Only the officer who created them, the officer's successor, or the University Archivist has access during the period of restriction unless the records-creating officer has obtained clearance. See also Official Record or Administratively Controlled Information.
 
Retrieval -- The process of locating and withdrawing a document from a file of records.
 
Sanctity of the Original Order -- The principle of archival arrangement according to which the creator's arrangement of files and documents within a deposit should be maintained.
 
Semi-Current (Semi-Active) Records -- Records which are housed in the active files, but are referred to so infrequently and do not relate to the current activities of the organization; required infrequently in the conduct of business.
Series -- See Record Series
 
 Subject Filing -- Grouping records together according to categories or subjects.
 
Subgroup -- Smaller (than record groups) bodies or organizationally related records within a record group to correspond to the subordinate administrative units that collectively form a record group.
 
Transferring -- The act or process of moving non-current records to the University Archives on a regular basis.
 
Transmittal -- The group of cartons transferred from one office, department, school or center to the University Archives.
 
University Records -- Recorded documentation in all formats produced, generated or received and accumulated by any employee of Villanova University while engaged in the conduct of official business in offices, departments, schools, centers, institutes, committees and the like. These University Records are the property of Villanova University and as such are subject to submission to the University Archives. Documents include all forms of recorded information such as: correspondence, financial statements, minutes of meetings, policy statements and procedure manuals, reports, literary publications, photographs, sound recordings or other recorded information, regardless of media or characteristics, created, received or maintained by the University in the course of university business. A document becomes a record when it is placed in an organized filing system for use as evidence of information. It becomes archival when transferred to a repository for preservation and research use. University Records belong to Villanova University rather than to the employee of the University. See Collection Development Policy
 
 Weeding -- Examining records in order to select and remove individual documents, records, or files from a record series due to their failure to possess continuing primary or secondary value. Weeding is also known as purging.
 


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