Archival Arrangement at the Archives of American Art: Series Identification and Arrangement

Table of Contents


This is a descriptive list of possible archival series typically found in collections at the Archives of American Art. This list of series is presented in the preferred order of intellectual and physical arrangement. Examples of series and subseries arrangement schemas are also provided.

Special formats, such as photographs, artwork, and audio visual media are listed at the end because they often require special housing, but these materials are likely to be found in other series as well. AV media should be arranged according to content, not format. Please see additional AAA guidelines on processing and arranging AV media.

For each series listed, there are general guidelines for arranging the documents or subseries within the series. It is important to remember that every collection is somewhat different and often series and subseries are established simply because of the extent of a particular group of materials. It may not always be necessary to establish a separate series for a handful of items–perhaps a subseries or folder grouping is more appropriate. This list is extensive, but not exhaustive. Each collection is different and there will be ones that have materials that simply don’t fit. Talk to your supervisor about options.

Archival Hierarchical Arrangement

AAA encodes its finding aid according to the EAD format. Therefore, ALL component units (series, subseries, sub-subseries, folder/file grouping, folder/ file unit, and items) of the archival hierarchy are encoded as nested components <c01>, <c02>, <c03>, <c04> etc. Establishing unnecessarily complicated hierarchies and nesting numerous levels requires tedious and extremely time-consuming encoding and is often difficult for users to follow. Although it may be necessary for particularly complex and large collections, the archivist should attempt to arrange the collection so that the hierarchy is as simple and concise as possible.

The key point to remember when determining a good archival arrangement is that the archivist should arrange the records or papers in such a way that the key activities, functions, or filing system of the creator are reflected.

Based on the contents of the collection, three kinds of hierarchies within a series are acceptable.

  1. Series arranged by folders–most common and usually preferred (folders may sometimes be grouped under meaningful headings.)
  2. Series arranged by subseries and folders–needed for larger and more complex collections.
  3. Series arranged as subseries, and further divided into sub-subseries and folders–rarely needed.

AAA restricts the number of component levels for each series to five which would be the equivalent of a series containing subseries, sub-subseries, folder groupings, folders, and items. It is the rare collection that will require organizing beyond the series/subseries/folder level.

For small groups of folders with the same or similar materials, a creative folder title is adequate and preferred over a complex hierarchy. For example, it is not necessary to divide the following small series of printed material into subseries of exhibition catalogs, news clippings and periodicals, as this can be just as clearly expressed using folder titles:

Box 1
1     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1936-1987
2     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1931-1990s
3     Exhibitions Catalogs for Other Artists, 1945-1961
4     New Clippings About Riveron, ca, 1930s-1983 (2 folders)
5     News Clippings About Other Artists, 1957-1985
6     Periodical, Modern Hispanic Magazine, 1935
7     Periodical, Dance International 1937-1938, 1937

However, if each of the folder titles above represented a large quantity of folders, you would not want to repeat the same information over and over. This is just as difficult to read and understand as an overly complicated hierarchy. For example, the following display has too many folders with the same title:

Box 1
1      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1936-1937
2      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1938-1939
3      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1940-1941
4      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1942-1943
5      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1944-1945
6      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1946-1947
7      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1948-1949
8      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1950-1951
9      Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1952-1953
10     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1931-1932
11     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1933-1934
12     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1935-1936
13     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1937-1938
14     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1939-1940
15     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1941-1942
16     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1943-1944
17     Exhibitions Catalogs for Other Artists, 1945-1961

A much better way to express the above would be:

Box 1
1-9          Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1936-1953 (9 folders)
10-16     Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1931-1944 (7 folders)
17           Exhibitions Catalogs for Other Artists, 1945-1961

If the collection contains even more folders with similar contents and/or titles, the material can be divided into folder groupings. This type of hierarchy is desirable when the other materials in the series cannot be broken into subseries. In other words, you cannot establish a subseries for only a portion of the material in a series. The title of the folder grouping is still encoded as an EAD component level in the hierarchy, but does not include a date span. For example:

Box 1
Exhibition Catalogs
1-9       Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1936-1953 (9 folders)
10-16   Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1931-1944 (7 folders)
17         Other Artists’ Exhibitions, 1945-1961

If the series has large numbers of folders of many different formats or other logical groupings, establish subseries. For example:

Series #: Printed Material, XXXX-XXXX (Boxes 1-3; 3 linear feet)
Subseries 1: Exhibition Catalogs, XXXX-XXXX
Subseries 2: Exhibition Announcements, XXXX-XXXX
Subseries 3: Newsclippings, XXXX-XXXX
Subseries 4: Travel Brochures, XXXX-XXXX
Subseries 5: Auction Catalogs, XXXX-XXXX

Follow the creator’s arrangement if it makes sense and can be used by researchers. Do not separate individual documents, files, or groups of files from series just because there are other series that contain those same materials. Often series based on activities or functions contain a mix of materials. If the creator filed varied documents together because they are related to a specific interest, function, or activity, then leave them together. In some cases, however, there may not be a usable or logical original order and you will have to create one. Gallery records rarely need to be “re-arranged.” However, personal papers simply sometimes do not have a usable logical order.

Not all series listed and described here will be found in all collections. Moreover, some of the series listed here are appropriate only for personal papers, and others for business or organizational records.

This is a list of typical AAA series in the preferred order of archival arrangement.

  1. Biographical Material
  2. Founding Documents
  3. Correspondence and Letters
  4. Interviews
  5. Writings, Notebooks, and Notes
  6. Diaries and Journals
  7. Subject Files/Project Files/Commission Files/Teaching Files/Research Files/Membership and Association Records
  8. Departmental/Administration Records
  9. Exhibition Files
  10. Artists’ Files
  11. Donor Files/Collector Files/Client Files
  12. Financial & Legal Records
  13. Personal Business Records
  14. Inventory and Stock Records
  15. Printed Material
  16. Scrapbooks
  17. Artwork and Sketchbooks
  18. Photographs/Photographic Materials
  19. Audio-visual Materials *Note that most audio-visual materials are actually best filed in other series. For example, audio recordings of a taped interview are usually filed in Biographical Materials with Interview transcripts, if available. Taped lectures are usually filed in Writings, and video recordings of exhibitions would be part of the Exhibition Files series.

What Kind of Collection Is It and What Should It be Titled?

Most collections can be classified and titled according to 1) the name of the creator/s or collector/s and 2) the nature of the materials being described: personal papers, family papers, gallery records, association records, research collections, autograph collections, letter collections, audio-visual collections, etc.

For example: Walt Disney papers; Walt Disney Family papers; Walt Disney and Susan Disney papers; Walt Disney Company records; Joe Smith’s Research Materials on Walt Disney; Walt Disney Autograph collection; Walt Disney Letters; Walt Disney Letter collection; Walt Disney’s Audio recordings.

Most often, the MARC/SIRIS collection record already has the correct form of the title in the 245 field. However, it is a good idea to generally review the title when you survey the collection, or as you process the collection, as it may need re-titled.

The title should include the name of the person/s, family/families, or corporate body predominately responsible for the creation, assembly, accumulation, and/or maintenance of the materials. Record the name in natural order by which the creator or collector is most generally known. In the title of the collection the “p” and “r” in “papers/records” should be lower-case, as should the first letter of any other words included in the title such as “family,” “letters,” or “collection.”

For more detailed information on titling a collection, please consult Section 2.3.4 in DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard and AAA Finding Aid Creation.)


1. Biographical Materials

Definition/Types of Documents
Biographical Materials is usually the first series for a collection of personal papers. The series can contain a wide variety of materials and might also include those odd items that may be scattered throughout the collection in such a limited quantity that a separate series is not needed, such as one or two items or one or two folders of legal and financial documents, lists, and notes. Please note that most medical records that are not critical to the understanding of the work of the creator should be disposed of. You may also find documentation of other family members. Typically, biographical materials include:

  • Life documents, such as birth and death certificates, passports, resumes, divorce papers, scattered legal and financial documents (if not enough for a separate series), awards, membership documents, certificates, non-annotated calendars or calendars with minimal annotations (heavily annotated calendars with notes, etc. should be filed with the Writings and Notes Series) appointment books, address books, interviews and interview transcripts (more than a few should form a series), and scattered family papers.
  • Can also contain autobiographical essays if these materials do not fit well into a separate writings series. However, most often writings by and about the creator are filed in a Writings series.
  • Diaries should always be filed in either Writings, if one or two, or form their own series.

Biographical materials are generally arranged into file units based on type of document, or even topical heading. Documents of other family members can also be separated into their own subseries if extent warrants.

Arrangement Example:

Series 1: Biographical Materials, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
1.1: Resumes, xxxx-xxxx
1.2: Legal Documents, xxxx-xxxx
1.3: Certificates and Awards, xxxx-xxxx
1.4: Calendars, xxxx-xxxx
1.5: Family History, xxxx-xxxx

2. Founding Documents

Definition/Types of Documents
A series of founding documents may be appropriate for the archival records of an association, organization, or gallery. Similar to the concept of biographical materials, this series might contain all records directly related to the founding of the body, such as meeting minutes, correspondence, charters, by-laws, lists of founders, written histories, etc. Alternatively, some collections of archival records might have a series entitled Administrative Records that would house founding documents.

Founding documents are generally arranged into file units based on type of document, or subseries if extent warrants.

Arrangement Example:

Series 1: Founding Documents, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Charter and By-Laws, xxxx-xxxx
Lists of Founding Board Members, xxxx-xxxx
Written Histories and Chronologies, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 1: Administrative Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
1.1: Board Meeting Minutes and Agendas, xxxx-xxxx
1.2: Committee Meetings, xxxx-xxxx
1.3: List of Founding Board Members, xxxx-xxxx
1.4: Founding Documents, xxxx-xxxx
1.5: Public Relations Files, xxxx-xxxx

3. Correspondence and Letters

Definition/Types of Documents
Correspondence implies letters to and from the creator—a two-way dialog. Letters indicate a one-way dialog, such as incoming or outgoing letters.

Most collections of personal papers have only a single correspondence series. However, large and/or complex personal papers, family papers, and business or organizational records may have several subseries of correspondence, or even separate subseries for correspondence and letters. For example, there may be business correspondence with one or more correspondents, and perhaps only incoming letters from friends and family. When mixed, name the entire series Correspondence, and be more specific with subseries titles if appropriate.

  • Letterpress Books are a form of letters.
  • Memoranda are a form of letters.
  • Christmas cards and other greeting cards are a form of correspondence.
  • Illustrated letters are a form of letters filed in correspondence. Do not separate them simply because they are illustrated.
  • Telegrams are a form of correspondence.

Subseries may be established for groups of letters or correspondence that are related to an activity or a group of related correspondents, such as family correspondence, personal correspondence, personal business correspondence, sales correspondence, exhibition correspondence, book publication correspondence, event correspondence, the director’s correspondence, legal correspondence, correspondence with friends and colleagues, or correspondence with artists, clients, galleries, museums, etc. There may be enough correspondence with one individual or business, or about one topic, to create a subseries. Subseries might also be established for different types of correspondence, such as memoranda, postcards, greeting cards, letterpress books, etc.

There can be any number of subseries established, if needed. However, breaking the correspondence into too many subseries can be confusing to users. Let the original order of the creator assist you in establishing subseries of correspondence. Trying to create an arrangement of correspondence independent of the creator’s arrangement is very difficult and extremely time-consuming, particularly if you try to arrange by subject. It is not recommended, unless the collection has absolutely no discernable original order at all.

The preferred method of arranging files within a correspondence series or subseries is alphabetical by name of correspondent, topic, or event. This allows searchable access points. Any correspondence series over 0.5 linear feet is very difficult to use if the material is in chronological order, often necessitating the need for a separate index—also very difficult to use in an online environment. However, chronological arrangements may be appropriate if the original order was chronological, or for a minimally processed collection. Occasionally, you may need both an alphabetical and chronological subseries.


Create a separate named file unit if there are five or more pieces of correspondence with/of the same person. It is acceptable to create alphabetical miscellaneous file unit titles if there are fewer than 5 pieces of correspondence associated with one name or topic. For example, “A, Miscellaneous”; “B, Miscellaneous.” You can create a scope/list note at the file level if you feel that any or even all of the names within alphabetical miscellaneous files need to be identified in the finding aid.

If the original order is chronological, or if the correspondence is unorganized and has no logical arrangement and alphabetizing would be too time consuming, you may arrange the correspondence in chronological order. However, it’s likely that you will need to create a separate index of names to facilitate access. If there are more than 10-15 names found within the correspondence and those names are repeated throughout a series of chronological correspondence, an index will be necessary. Fewer than 10 names can easily be incorporated into your series scope and content note.

It is rare, but for some collections, you may need to establish or flesh out one subseries of chronological correspondence, and another subseries of alphabetical correspondence. For example, family correspondence could be arranged chronologically, while business correspondence could be arranged alphabetically by name. This is acceptable ONLY if the two arrangements truly reflect different types of correspondence OR if this reflects the original order OR if the collection is being minimally processed.

Undated letters or correspondence should be filed first in a file, file grouping, or series/subseries. Envelopes should be filed before the letter and enclosures should be filed after the letter. You may wish to fold a piece of paper around the letter and enclosure to keep them together. Unidentified correspondents and letter fragments should be filed at the end of the series or subseries. If only the first name is known, the letter can be filed alphabetically with the surnames, indicating in your file listing that the surname is unknown.

Remember, correspondence is often mixed throughout the collection in other series, such as subject files, research files, publishing files, exhibition files, artists’ files, project and commission files, teaching files, etc. These series most often contain a wide variety of materials, including correspondence that should remain with the rest of the documents in that file unit. Moreover, in some collections, correspondence may be found ONLY in these files, rather than being separated into its own series. In this case, leave it. Again, let the original order guide you.

Arrangement Example from Personal Papers:

Series 3: Correspondence, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
3.1: Family Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx
3.2: Letters to Sally Smith (wife), xxxx-xxxx
3.3: Personal Business Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx
3.4: Correspondence regarding Book Publication, xxxx-xxxx
3.5: Correspondence with Friends and Colleagues, xxxx-xxxx
3.6: Greeting Cards, xxxx-xxxx

Arrangement Example from Corporate Records (Gallery Records):

Series 3: Correspondence, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
3.1: [with] Museums, xxxx-xxxx
3.2: [with] Clients, xxxx-xxxx
3.3: [with] Dealers/Other Galleries, xxxx-xxxx
3.4: [of the] New York (or other area) Office, xxxx-xxxx
3.5: Barbara Castelli’s (owner) Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx
3.6: Inter-office Memoranda, xxxx-xxxx
3.7: Chronological File of Outgoing Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx

4. Interviews

Definition/Types of Documents
Transcripts of interviews are common in AAA’s collections of personal papers. In some cases, the interview transcript is accompanied by the original audio, video, or digital recording. In many collections, there are interview recordings in audio-visual format, but no written transcript. Interviews may be with and about the creator or conducted by the creator, the latter particularly common in art critics and art historians papers. Lastly, there are some collections that have interviews collected by the creator.

If the collection contains one or two interviews or interview transcripts, it is acceptable to file these with Biographical Materials. If there are more than a few, however, they should form their own series.

Interviews are usually arranged by the name of the interviewee in chronological order. When describing an interview in a folder heading, please include the name of the interviewer if known.

Audio-visual recordings of interviews should be arranged in an Interview series, not an AV series. See AAA’s special procedures for describing AV materials.

5. Writings, Notes, and Notebooks

Definition/Types of Documents
Personal papers typically contain a wide variety of writings, essays, lists, lectures, notebooks, and notes written by or about the creator that can be arranged into one Writings series. Alternatively, if only one or two types of writings are found, be specific in your series title. For example, if only notebooks and lists are found in the papers, simply title the series Notebooks and Lists. Also, if there are not enough writings to warrant a separate series, it is acceptable to include a small amount of this material in the Biographical Materials Series.

Writings series often include focused notes (class or lecture notes, for example), jottings, notebooks, lists, price lists (if not in a business records series), lectures, speeches, poems, short stories, plays, essays, monographs, manuscripts, typescripts, class notes, guest registers, calendars heavily annotated with notes, reports, etc. Manuscript and published versions of books written by the creator are also arranged here.

If the collection contains only one or two diaries or journals, arrange in the Writings series. If there are more than two diaries or journals, they should form a separate series.

Writings by others are arranged in this series as well, as a separate subseries. However, published material about the creator is most often filed in the series of printed materials. Some writings will be Unidentified by either author or title.

Many writings (lists, notebooks, lectures, etc.) may also be found in other series, such as legal records, business records of an individual, teaching files, and/or project files. If so, do not remove this material from its original “home” to file with a series of Writings.

Most often, arrange writings by type, which can also form subseries if extent justifies. Within each type or subseries, most titled prose and essays should be arranged alphabetically by title. You may also have to assign a title which should be expressed in brackets.

It is also acceptable to arrange untitled writings in chronological order or by subject/topic if this better reflects the creator’s activities. If the material is not titled and creating titles would simply be too time-consuming, arrange in chronological or rough chronological order. Chronological arrangement is also appropriate for a group of materials similar in format, such as lectures, notebooks, etc.

Arrangement Example:

Series 5: Writings and Notes, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Subseries 5.1: Book Manuscripts, xxxx-xxxx
5.1.1: Research Notes, xxxx-xxxx
5.1.2: Drafts, Typescripts, xxxx-xxxx
5.1.3: Annotated Manuscript Versions, xxxx-xxxx

Subseries 5.2: Lectures, xxxx-xxxx
5.2.1: Lectures for Cartoon History Class at NYU, xxxx-xxxx
5.2.2: Other Lectures, xxxx-xxxx
5.2.3: Lecture Notes, xxxx-xxxx
Subseries 5.3: Essays, Articles, and Monographs
5.3.1: Magazine Articles, Typescript Drafts, xxxx-xxxx
(folder headings would most likely be titles)
5.3.2: Newspaper Articles, xxxx-xxxx **Note, not clippings.
5.3.3: Monographs on Daffy Duck, xxxx-xxxx
5.3.4: Research Notes, xxxx-xxxx

Arrangement Example:

Series 5: Writings and Notes, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
5.1: Notebooks, Class Notes, xxxx-xxxx
5.2: Notebooks, Art Techniques, xxxx-xxxx
5.3: Poetry, xxxx-xxxx
(folder headings would most likely be titles)
5.4: Plays and Short Stories, xxxx-xxxx
(folder headings would most likely be titles)

6. Diaries and Journals

Definition/Types of Documents
It is hard to differentiate between a diary and a journal—always use the creator’s title when known. If the creator has not labeled them as either a journal or diary, default to “diary.” Both record the creator’s daily activities, usually in a dated format with regular entries; although some have sporadic or irregular entries. In some cases, diaries and journals are focused on one specific activity, such as travel or painting.

Diaries and journals of artists are often illustrated. Do not confuse an illustrated diary with a sketchbook. If there are many drawings within the diary or notebook, either incorporate that information in the series title (for example, Illustrated Journals), or call them Annotated Sketchbooks and arrange them as artwork.

Diaries and Journals form their own series when there are more than two. Two or fewer should be arranged in the Writings Series. Generally, diaries or journals are arranged in chronological order, unless there are diaries/journals for separate activities by the creator, such as travel journals/diaries and painting journals. A collection of personal or family papers could contain the diaries of more than one family member.

Arrangement Example:

Series 6: Diaries, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
6.1: Creator’s Diaries, Volumes 1-4, xxxx-xxxx
6.2: Creator’s Wife’s Diaries, xxxx-xxxx

Arrangement Example:

Series 6: Journals, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
6.1: Painting Journals, xxxx-xxxx
6.2: Travel Journals, xxxx-xxxx

7. Subject Files/Project Files/Commission Files/Teaching Files/ Research Files/Membership Records—Personal Papers Only

Definition/Types of Documents
Often in personal papers you will find a group of files organized by the creator around a certain activity, job, business, project, membership, or interest. There may be even more than one group. The files usually contain a wide variety of documents that are related by one activity, project, subject, or association membership, etc. Documents might include correspondence, photographs, printed materials, photocopies, business forms, legal and financial documents, notes, and writings. In some cases, particularly teaching files and association membership files, the documentation may consist primarily of the archival records of another entity that were actually collected by the creator in their role as a member, officer, trustee, or employee.

Never establish a series for Subject Files if the creator did not have a similar grouping of files naturally occurring within the papers.

These files should be maintained and arranged as a distinct group of related files, usually as found. Most arrangement will be done at the folder level, or within the folders. Do not break the files apart or separate the material into other series based on type of material.

Files for large projects/subjects/commissions, etc. may be further broken down into “folder groupings”, or sub-sub series. However, if you create a sub-sub series, then all material in the subseries level must be arranged into similar sub-sub series. Folder groupings allow you to group a set of related files together without establishing an actual subseries, or sub-sub series. Folder grouping titles do not have unit dates associated with the title; the unit dates are attached to the actual folders only. Note that in the example below, only the actual file unit titles represented by physical folders have dates. However, folder groupings are still a Hierarchical arrangement represented by a <c0X> level in EAD.

Arrangement Example:

Series 7: Project Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Mickey Mouse Statue, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Minnie Mouse Statue, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Goofy Statue (file grouping)
Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Reports, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Photographs, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Newsclippings, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 7: Project Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Mickey Mouse Statue, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Minnie Mouse Statue, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Goofy Statue, Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Goofy Statue, Reports, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Goofy Statue, Photographs, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Goofy Statue, Newsclippings, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)

Both examples are correct; the second is redundant, but if you have only a handful of files, it is perfectly acceptable. Also, alternatively, you may establish subseries for individual projects. This is recommended, however, only if there are extensive varied files for EACH individual project.

8. Departmental/Administration Records—Business and Association Records

Definition/Types of Documents
In business and association records, you will find groups of documents that were created by either specific departments or specific functions and activities. Similar to the project/commission/research, etc. files above, departmental records may also contain a wide variety of documents, but are often less varied than in personal papers. For example, the records of the Membership Department may contain forms, correspondence, lists, printed materials, etc. Departmental records might exist for Membership, Public Affairs, General Administrative offices, etc. Association records may have groups of files related to membership activities, meetings, publications, etc. Generally, AAA arranges exhibition files, artists’ files, and client files as separate series.

Departmental records are arranged by department or major function. They can either form their own individual series, or be arranged as subseries if extent warrants.

Arrangement Example:

Series 8: Membership Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Membership Roster (disbound), xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Active Members, A-Z, 1953-1961 (4 folders)
Lists of Former Members, 1951
Membership Biographies, A-Z, 1950s (7 folders)
Correspondence Regarding Membership and Dues, 1954-1963

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 8: Administrative and Departmental Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
8.1: Membership, xxxx-xxxx
8.2: Publicity/Public Affairs, xxxx-xxxx
8.3: Graphics, xxxx-xxxx

9. Exhibition Files

Definition/Types of Documents
Exhibition files are found in personal papers and gallery/organizational records. The files generally contain a variety of materials related to and documenting individual named exhibitions, such as planning documents, lists of works of art, correspondence, loan forms, condition reports, insurance and shipping documents, photographs, annotated catalogs, scrapbooks, etc. If the only documentation of exhibitions is represented by un-annotated exhibition catalogs, arrange these in the Printed Materials series.

Most often, exhibition files are arranged by name of exhibition in chronological order by date of exhibition. All materials for one exhibition are maintained together. In some collections, you may find that the creator has arranged exhibition files in a simple chronological order, rather than by named exhibition. Occasionally, you may also find a mix of both individual and chronological exhibition files. In these cases, keep the original order if it is logical and usable. Annotated exhibition catalogs should always remain with the exhibition files. Un-annotated exhibition catalogs may be separated into a printed materials series if one exists. Exhibition photographs should stay with the series unless the creator has already separated them and filed with other photographs.

Titles of exhibitions are expressed in quotation marks, followed by the date/s of the exhibition in parenthesis, followed by the dates of the archival materials in usual format. The dates of the actual exhibition form part of the unit title of the folder. DO NOT confuse the date/s of the exhibition with the date/s of the materials in the folder–even if they are the same date/s. For example:

“The Ties That Bind” (1988), 1988

Exhibition files often contain a copy of a published exhibition catalogs. If a published exhibition catalog is the ONLY material in the exhibition folder, the title of the exhibition in the file title should be in italics. Otherwise, do not use italics to express the title of the exhibition.

Sometimes you will not be able to find an exact title of an exhibition. In these cases, create a file title based on the name of the artist, venue, or date. Do not use parenthesis.

Arrangement Example (personal papers):

Series 9: Exhibition Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Muckenthaler Cultural Center (1979), 1978-1979
Matrix Workshop of Women Artists - "Sculpture Sacramento" (1982), 1981-1983
Michael Duney Gallery-“The Ties That Bind” (1988), 1988
National Museum of Women in the Arts-“Generation of Mentors” (1994), 1992-1995

Arrangement Example (gallery records):

Series 9: Exhibition Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Richard Artschwager (1988), 1987-1988
“The 60’s Revisited” (1990), 1989-1990
Jasper Johns, “35 Years with Leo Castelli” (1992), 1992-1993

You rarely need to establish subseries for individual exhibitions unless EACH exhibition file is large and varied.

10. Artists’ Files

Definition/Types of Documents
Artists’ files are typically found in gallery records and consist of a wide variety of materials relating to an artist either represented by the gallery or in which the gallery had an interest. Most often, artists’ files document a relationship that the gallery had with an artist. Do not confuse artists’ files with research files arranged by name of artist.

These files often contain a wide variety of materials such as correspondence, photographs, sales records, exhibition records, printed materials, etc. Sometimes, however, artists’ files represent an interest the gallery may have had in an artist, and are more passive research or reference files that may contain only printed materials and perhaps photographs and slides.

Arrange in alphabetical order by name of artist. If the file for an individual artist consists of only one or two folders, arrange the materials and folders in chronological order. If an artist is represented by multiple folders, then the material should be arranged according to type of material in folder groupings (see section 6 arrangement example.) You will rarely need to establish subseries unless there is extensive documentation for EACH artist.

In some cases the creator may have removed photographs, posters, or catalogs from the artists’ files and filed them elsewhere. Maintain the creator’s arrangement.

Arrangement Example:

Series 10: Artists Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Jasper Johns, xxxx-xxxx (2 folders)
Claes Oldenberg, xxxx-xxxx
Robert Rauschenberg (folder grouping)
Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Sales, xxxx-xxxx (3 folders) (file unit)
Exhibitions, xxxx-xxxx (2 folders) (file unit)
Printed Materials, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
Photographs of Artwork, xxxx-xxxx (5 folders) (file unit)
Photographs of Rauschenberg, xxxx-xxxx (3 folders) (file unit)
Photographs of Exhibitions, xxxx-xxxx (file unit)
James Rosenquist, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 10: Artists Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Jasper Johns, xxxx-xxxx (2 folders)
Claes Oldenberg, xxxx-xxxx
Robert Rauschenberg Correspondence, xxxx-xxxx
Robert Rauschenberg Sales, xxxx-xxxx (3 folders)
Robert Rauschenberg Exhibitions, xxxx-xxxx (2 folders)
Robert Rauschenberg Printed Materials, xxxx-xxxx
Robert Rauschenberg Photographs of Artwork, xxxx-xxxx (5 folders)

11. Donor Files/Collector Files/Client Files

Definition/Types of Materials
Donor/Collector/Client files are often maintained by dealers and galleries documenting the gallery’s relationships, dealings, and interest in donors, collectors, clients, other galleries, and museums. The files could contain a wide variety of materials and document all transactions and relationships with the donor/collector/client, such as marketing, sales, loans, relationships, interests, etc. or perhaps only document one type of transaction or relationship, such as sales.

The files are generally arranged by name of client, and then according to type of material if extent warrants. If the material documents only one activity (sales) or is comprised of only one type of material (invoices), then most likely it should be a subseries of another series. For example, if client files consist only of correspondence, then they should be arranged as a subseries of the correspondence series. If client files contain only sales invoices and receipts, they should be arranged as a subseries of a financial records series.

Arrangement Example:

Series 11: Collectors Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
11.1: Individuals, xxxx-xxxx
11.2: Museums, xxxx-xxxx
11.3: Prospective Clients, xxxx-xxxx
11.4: Prince of Liechtenstein Collection, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 11: Collectors Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
Acheson, George, undated
Ackerman, Phyllis, 1924-1928
Adams, Frederick B., 1972
Adler, A. M. and Thomas circa 1937
Agnew & Sons, 1952-1955
Albert Roullier Art Galleries, circa 1933, undated
Alex Reid & Lefèvre, undated (2 folders)

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 11: Financial Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #, extent)
11.1: Invoices, xxxx-xxxx
11.2: Client Invoices and Receipts, xxxx-xxxx

12. Financial Records & Legal Records—Business

Definition/Types of Materials
Most of AAA’s collections of business records are gallery records. Gallery records typically contain documentation of sales and purchases, often in varied formats. Purchase orders or receipts, invoices, sales ledgers, price lists, consignment invoices, account books or journals, banking records, tax records, and audit reports. Often related are shipping and insurance records. There may also be financial records related to specific projects or activities, such as publishing and printing.

Legal records are varied and may include lawsuit records, estate settlement records, or personal legal records of the business owner.

Financial records are arranged according to type of material into groups of file units or subseries. Often you will find one activity documented via different types of materials. For example, sales could be documented in ledger books arranged by name of client and in invoices arranged by date. Often legal records relate to one specific activity or transaction and are typically arranged in a separate subseries if extent warrants, but not if the financial and legal records are scattered.

Arrangement Example:

Series 12: Financial Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box#; extent)
12.1: Purchase Receipts, xxxx-xxxx
12.2: General Invoices, xxxx-xxxx
12.3: Invoice Books, xxxx-xxxx
12.4: Daily Journals, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 12: Financial Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box#; extent)
Receipts, xxxx-xxxx (3 folders)
Invoices, xxxx-xxxx
Ledgers, xxxx-xxxx (5 folders)
Price Lists, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 12: Financial & Legal Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box#; extent)
Subseries 1: Financial Records    
Receipts, xxxx-xxxx (3 folders)
Invoices, xxxx-xxxx
Subseries 2: Legal Records
Estate Settlement of Artist, xxxx-xxxx
Lawsuit with Dealer, xxxx-xxxx    

13. Personal Business Record

Definition/Type of Material
Personal papers often contain documents related to the creator’s financial, legal, and business affairs. Examples include sales, purchases, price lists, contracts, loans, gallery dealings, lawsuits, leases, banking, taxes, publications, estate settlements, etc.

The processing archivist must be careful not to expose private information, such as medical records, social security numbers, etc.—particularly if it is current or belongs to a person who did not grant literary rights or copyright to AAA.

Extent will determine whether you need to establish a series for financial, legal, and/or business records. If only a few scattered documents exist, they may be arranged in the Biographical Materials series. Financial, legal, and business records may also be found within other series, such as project and exhibition files.

Arrangement Example:

Series 13: Personal Business Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Contracts, xxxx-xxxx
Leases, xxxx-xxxx
Price Lists, xxxx-xxxx
Sales Receipts, xxxx-xxxx (4 folders)

Series 13: Personal Business Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
13.1: Financial Records, xxxx-xxxx
13.2: Sales Documentation, xxxx-xxxx
13.3: Estate, xxxx-xxxx

14. Inventory and Stock Records

Definition/Types of Materials
Most galleries maintain inventory and stock records in various formats and arrangements. They may take the form of cards, notebooks, or loose pages, or a combination of types of records.
Often, there is a filing or numbering system that may also be cross-referenced with other inventory or sales records. For example, there may be inventory cards arranged by year, referenced to notebooks arranged by name of artist.

Arrangement Example:

Series 14: Inventory and Stock Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
14.1: Card Catalog of Artwork, xxxx-xxxx
14.2: Notebooks, Works of Art by Artist, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 14: Inventory and Stock Records, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Card Catalog of Artwork, xxxx-xxxx (15 folders)
Notebooks, Works of Art by Artists, xxxx-xxxx (5 folders)

15. Printed Material

Definition/Type of Material
Typical printed materials include exhibition catalogs and announcements, posters (except for original prints), news and magazine clippings (including printed reproductions of artwork), entire newspapers and magazines, press releases, bulletins, books, printed reports, college class announcements, flyers and brochures, maps, blank postcards, etc. Printed materials may focus on the creator or the creator’s interests, the creator’s life and work, or depict printed images of the work of the creator.

Printed materials are arranged by type of material and further broken down in chronological order. It is common for printed materials to be found in other series as well, such as writings, exhibition files, project files, artists’ files, etc. In most cases, these should be maintained with their original files.

Printed materials that represent writings by the creator may be arranged with Printed Materials or with Writings. Generally, if the writings are in the form of clippings, they can be arranged with Printed Materials. However, if there are other supporting documents with the clippings, such as notes, etc. they should be arranged in Writings.

Arrangement Example:

Series 15: Printed Materials, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
15.1: Exhibition Catalogs, xxxx-xxxx
15.2: Clippings, xxxx-xxxx
15.3: Other Books, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 15: Printed Materials, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Exhibition Catalogs, xxxx-xxxx (4 folders)
Printed Posters, xxxx-xxxx (4 folders; oversized also in OV 14)

16. Scrapbooks

Definition/Types of Material
Scrapbooks usually contain primarily clippings focusing on the creator’s life or specific activities. Many also contain photographs, brochures, awards, certificates, and letters. Some businesses and galleries also create scrapbooks.

Scrapbooks should form their own series. They are often oversized, requiring “see also” notes at the file heading. You can usually arrange scrapbooks in a simple chronological order. If there are two or more types of scrapbooks, such as exhibition scrapbooks and travel scrapbooks, arrange first by activity or type and chronologically within each category.

Scrapbooks can be dismantled for storage, particularly if they are in fragile condition, and placed in multiple folders, keeping the original order. If dismantled, physically label the folders 1 of X; 2 of X, etc.

Arrangement Example:

Series 16: Scrapbooks, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Travel Scrapbook, Italy, xxxx-xxxx (Oversized item housed in box XX)
Travel Scrapbook, France, xxxx-xxxx
Family Scrapbook, xxxx-xxxx (dismantled, 4 folders)

17. Artwork & Sketchbooks

Definition/Types of Material
Artwork is common in AAA’s collections of personal papers. AAA does not collect completed, finished works of art. We collect preliminary-type artwork found within the collections of papers, such as studies, sketches, watercolor sketches, drawings, prints, and sketchbooks. It is sometimes difficult to identify the medium of the artwork. Seek assistance if you cannot easily identify the medium.

Generally, artwork should be a separate series, with special care taken for proper preservation interleaving and housing. Many collections have artwork from more than one artist. Some artwork, such as illustrated letters and hand-made Christmas cards, are often found in other series and should remain there. Artwork can be arranged by medium, or by artist, if more than one artist is represented.

Sketchbooks are a form of artwork that should be arranged as a separate series if there is more than one. Sketchbooks are often numbered and/or titled by the artist.

Arrangement Example:

Series 17: Artwork, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
17.1: By Creator’s Name, xxxx-xxxx
Sketches and Drawings, xxxx-xxxx (3 folders, oversized items housed in OV 12)
Watercolor Sketches, xxxx-xxxx
Sketchbook, circa xxxx
17.2: By Other Artist/s, xxxx-xxxx
Sketches, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example
Series 17: Sketchbooks, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Sketchbook 1, Paris, xxxx-xxxx
Sketchbook 2, Italy, xxxx-xxxx
Sketchbook 3-5, New York City, xxxx-xxxx

18. Photographs/Photographic Materials

Definition/Types of Materials
A series of photographs might contain snapshots, 8x10 black and white copy prints, original vintage prints, negatives, glass plate negatives, cased and mounted photographs, photograph albums, slides, and transparencies. There are many different types of photographic processes, mounts, supports, emulsions, and formats. Most of AAA’s photographs are simply snapshots and 8X10 copyprints. However, we also have vintage and color photographs of almost all processes and formats. We also have many photograph albums, slides, and negatives, as well as glass plate negatives.

One should consult with one of the many excellent reference books on archival photographs for detailed information. There are several processing staff that can usually help identify the various photographic formats and processes. If possible, identify the formats and processes in the folder headings, but often “vintage” is sufficient. However, knowing the format and process is important for proper storage.

Images of any number of subjects might be included such as portraits and other shots of the creator, family members, friends, the artist at work, studios, homes and houses, gallery exteriors, travels, family vacations, events and parties, exhibition openings and installation views, artwork, reference and resource imagery, projects, students, etc.

At AAA, photographs are most often arranged according to the subject matter of the photograph, rather than format or process. However, slides and negatives may be physically arranged and housed separately from positive prints because of either special preservation or housing needs. Although many archives house negatives in separate boxes, AAA usually houses negatives close to the original and copy prints for reference convenience.

You will also often encounter images that have duplicate copy prints. File the duplicates either in the same folder as the original, or in folders immediately following the originals.

Cased photographs are housed separately from collections, but described intellectually with other photographic materials. Glass plate negatives must be housed in small boxes, with extra support in the form of acid-free corrugated board.

Care must be taken with photographs for proper housing and storage. For most black and white copy prints, interleaving with acid-free paper is sufficient. For vintage processes, including color, cyanotypes, and diazotypes, current standards recommend using good quality buffered photographic/negative interleaving paper. This is a change from past recommendations. Negatives should be stored in buffered envelopes. Slides can be stored in special archival slide pages or slide boxes. Generally, AAA does not use plastic enclosures for photographic materials.

Photograph Albums can be interleaved or dismantled for proper storage.

Arrangement Example:

Series 18: Photographs, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
18.1: Creator, xxxx-xxxx
18.2: Family and Friends, xxxx-xxxx
18.3: Exhibition Openings, xxxx-xxxx
18.4: Photograph Albums, xxxx-xxxx

Alternate Arrangement Example:

Series 18: Photographs, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Portrait Images of Creator, xxxx-xxxx (oversized items in Box #)
Images of Studio and House, xxxx-xxxx
Events and Parties, xxxx-xxxx (4 folders)
Travel, xxxx-xxxx (2 folders)

19. Audio/Sound and Visual Recordings

Definition/Types of Materials
Many of AAA’s collections contain audio visual recordings in several formats, including reel-to-reel tapes; cassette recordings; sound discs (lacquer, vinyl, or shellac); motion picture films (16mm, 8mm, Super8 mm); VHS, BETA, and U-Matic video cassettes; CDs; videodisc (DVD); videoreels (EIAJ tape); and electronic optical discs (CD-ROM). AAA has written guidelines to help identify formats and playback equipment to assist with description. Consult with AAA’s AV Archivist for further guidance and assistance.

AV records should be arranged according to intellectual content, not format. For this reason, most AV materials will be arranged with other series. For example, recordings of interviews should be filed in an Interviews series, along with transcripts if they exist.

In some cases, an Audiovisual Materials series will make sense when the AV records in are miscellaneous and unrelated to other documents in the collection. Where there is a relationship between AV material and records in other physical forms, that relationship should be preserved in the arrangement. As for physical housing, AV items may need to be housed separately, like OV material and artifacts, using a “see” reference in a folder note in the finding aid.

See guidelines for encoding EAD description of AV materials for further guidance.

Arrangement Example:

Series 19: Exhibition Files, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
“The American Artist and Water Reclamation,” (1974) (folder grouping)
Correspondence, 1969-1972 (folder)
List of Artwork, 1973 (folder)
Interview with Sol LeWitt, 1972 (1 sound tape reel) (folder)

Alternative Arrangement Example:

Series 19: Sound and Video Recordings, XXXX-XXXX (Box #; extent)
Performance Art at Holly Solomon Gallery, xxxx-xxxx (2 videocassettes: VHS)
Performance Art Symposium, xxxx (1 sound cassette)

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