Creating Finding Aids at the Archives of American Art

Table of Contents

Introduction

A finding aid generally provides descriptive information about a collection on varying levels, each describing the same collection, but at different levels of detail and perspective. It describes the entirety of a collection, as well as the collection’s component levels (series, subseries, folders, items). The format of a finding aid reflects the hierarchy present in the collection’s intellectual arrangement, and often the physical arrangement as well. The detail of a finding aid should also reflect the processing level of a collection. If a collection is minimally processed, the finding aid detail should be minimal as well.

AAA follows DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) guidelines for describing archival collections. DACS and MARC reference points have been included in this guide, where applicable.

DACS Principles of Archival Description

  1. Records in archives possess unique characteristics.
  2. The principle of respect des fonds is the basis of archival arrangement and description (records created together should be maintained together in their original order, if an original order exists or was maintained by the creator).
  3. Archival arrangement involves the identification of groupings within the material.
  4. Archival description reflects archival arrangement and the level of processing.
  5. Rules of archival description apply to all archival materials regardless of form or medium.
  6. Principles of archival description apply equally to records created by corporate bodies, individuals, or families.
  7. Archival descriptions may be presented at varying levels of detail to produce a variety of outputs.
    • 7.1: Levels of description correspond to levels of arrangement.
    • 7.2: Relationships between levels of description must be clearly indicated.
    • 7.3: Information provided at each level of description must be appropriate to that level.
  8. The creators of archival materials, as well as the materials themselves, must be described. (**Note that as of 2009, with the creation of the EAC–Encoded Archival Context–this could change, and describing creators may become a separate descriptive practice.)

DACS Single-Level or Multilevel Description

DACS assumes that the collection is being described as a “single level” or as a “multilevel” record.

A single level record is commonly known as a collection-level record; that is, it does not describe all of the components (series, subseries, subgroups, files, items, etc.) of a collection. A single level DACS record corresponds to the level of description found in an unlinked MARC record.

A DACS multilevel record includes all of the collection level information, but adds descriptive information about the hierarchal arrangement and the component levels found within the collection. A multilevel DACS record corresponds to the level of description commonly found in a finding aid, inventory, register, multiple linked MARC records, or in-house database entry that describes materials at more than one level. All AAA finding aids are multilevel DACS records.

A DACS single level description will include a summary and overview of the types of material present, the extent, dates, significant people, events, or subjects represented, and provenance and access information. There will be information about the creator in the form of a biographical sketch or organization/corporate history and a scope and content note that provides a well-written overview of the contents of the collection.

The DACS multilevel record adds more detailed descriptions of the various groupings of materials as reflected in archival arrangement of the collection - series, subseries, folder, and items. At minimum, the series have narrative scope and content descriptions. Each file unit is listed, often in the form of a container or folder list that clearly mirrors the physical and intellectual arrangement of the collection. Items are usually only listed for very small collections. Additional adjunct information, such as lists, indices, and other appendices may be provided for particularly large and complex collections.

Single-level Archival Description - Minimum DACS elements

(Numbers in parenthesis are DACS reference numbers. Note that there may be additional required EAD elements for an EAD finding aid.)

  • Reference Code Element (2.1)
  • Name and Location of Repository Element (2.2)
  • Title Element (of archival collection, 2.3)
  • Date Element (of archival collection, 2.4)
  • Extent Element (2.5)
  • Name/s of Creator/s Elements (2.6)
  • Scope and Content Element (3.1, at this level may be an abstract only)
  • Conditions Governing Access Element (4.1)
  • Language and Scripts of the Material Element (4.5)

Single-level Archival Description - Optimal DACS elements

  • All of the above elements for a minimum DACS description.
  • Administrative/Biographical History Element (2.7)
  • Scope and Content Element (3.1, at this level expanded to a full description of the collection)
  • Access Points (see DACS: Overview of Archival Description. Could be controlled subject, names, places, documentary forms, occupations, and function terms. Could include local browsing terms.)

Multilevel Archival Description - Minimum DACS elements

Top level:

  • Reference Code Element (2.1)
  • Name and Location of Repository Element (2.2)
  • Title Element (of archival collection, 2.3)
  • Date Element (of archival collection, 2.4)
  • Extent Element (2.5)
  • Name/s of Creator/s Elements (2.6)
  • Scope and Content Element (3.1, at this level may be an abstract only)
  • Conditions Governing Access Element (4.1)
  • Language and Scripts of the Material Element (4.5)
  • Identification of the whole-part relationship of the top level to at least the next subsequent level.

Each subsequent level:

  • All of the above elements, unless the information is the same as the higher level, including the creator if the creator is same as for the top level. Scope and content elements are not required at the file or item level if the title element is sufficient.
  • Identification of the whole-part relationship (hierarchy) of each level to the next subsequent level in the multilevel description. (Ex.: c01, c02, c03, etc.)

Multilevel Archival Description - Optimal DACS elements

Top level:

  • All of the elements in the minimal multilevel above.
  • Administrative History or Biographical Note element (2.7)
  • Scope and Content element (3.1) A full description of the scope and content of the materials being described
  • Access points (names, subjects, etc.)

Each subsequent level:

  • All of the elements outlined above, unless the information is the same as that of a higher level.
  • Identification of the whole-part relationship (hierarchy) of each level to the next subsequent level in the multilevel description. (Ex.: c01, c02, c03, etc.)

Multilevel Archival Description - Added Value elements

Top level:

  • All of the elements in the optimal description, plus any other DACS elements the repository wishes to include.

Each subsequent level:

  • All of the elements outlined above, unless the information is the same as that of a higher level.
  • Identification of the whole-part relationship (hierarchy) of each level to the next subsequent level in the multilevel description. (Ex.: c01, c02, c03, etc.)

Overview of AAA Finding Aid Structure and Elements

Below is an overview of the elements typically found in an AAA finding aid. This structure and the corresponding EAD elements have been incorporated into AAA’s EAD template. All of the elements listed below are mandatory, unless stated otherwise. (See Also AAA EAD Encoding Guidelines and SI EAD Best Practices.)

1. Title Page (bibliographic information about the finding aid)

1.1: Finding aid title and dates
1.2: Finding aid author/s
1.3: Date of publication
1.4: Sponsor (if applicable)
1.5: Contact information

2. Collection Overview (begin archival description of collection)

2.1: Creator/s (must match SIRIS MARC record; DACS 2.6 & Ch. 9 ; MARC 100/110)
2.2: Title of collection (DACS 2.3; MARC 245)
2.3: Dates (DACS 2.4; MARC 245 $f )
2.4: Abstract note (DACS 3.1; MARC 520 $a
2.5: Extent (DACS 2.5; MARC 300)
2.6: Language of materials (DACS 4.5; MARC 546)

3. Administrative Information (information about acquisition and use of collection)

3.1: Provenance (DACS 5.2; MARC 541)
3.2: Separated Material (if applicable; DACS 6.3; MARC 544)
3.3: Location of originals (if applicable; DACS 6.1; MARC 535)
3.4: Related Material (if applicable; DACS 6.3; MARC 544)
3.5: Alternative forms available (if applicable; DACS 6.2; MARC 530)
3.6: Processing information (DACS 8.1.5; MARC 583)
3.7: Preferred citation (DACS 7; MARC 510 or 524
3.8: Restrictions on Access and Use (DACS 4.1 & 4.4; MARC 506 & 540)
Restrictions on Access
Ownership and Literary rights
3.9: Accruals (if applicable; DACS 5.4; MARC 584)

4. Biographical Note/Organization History (DACS 2.7 & 10; MARC 545)

5. Scope and Content Note (DACS 3.1; MARC 520)

6. Arrangement (DACS 3.2; MARC 351)

7. Names and Subject Terms (DACS 11-14; MARC 6XX, 7XX)

8. Components/Series Descriptions and Container Listing (DACS Multilevel Description uses elements above as needed: titles; dates; extent; scope and content notes; arrangement, etc. No MARC equivalent)

8.1: Series Number, Title, Dates, Extent
8.2: Series Description (scope and content note)
8.3: Series Arrangement (if applicable for subseries)
8.4: Container Listing (Box #, Folder #, Folder Title, Folder Dates, Folder Physical Description, Folder Scope and Content Note, if needed)

May Add

Subseries Number, Title, Dates
Subseries Scope and Content Note, if applicable
Subseries Arrangement Note (rarely applicable)
Container Listing ( Box #, Folder Title, Folder Dates, Folder Physical Description, Folder Scope and Content, if needed)

May Also Add

Sub-subseries Number, Title, Dates
Container Listing ( Box #, Folder Title, Folder Dates, Folder Physical Description, Folder Scope and Content, if needed)

9. Other Descriptive Data - Indexes (if applicable; DACS 7, notes; MARC 500)

9.1: Collection Level Index
9.2: Series Level Index

10. Other Finding Aid (if applicable; DACS 4.6; No MARC equivalent)

11. Bibliography (if applicable; DACS 8.1.3; No MARC equivalent)

Finding Aid Elements

1. Title Page

1.1: Finding aid title and dates
Provide the full title of the finding aid that includes the dates of collection.

A Finding Aid to the Nancy Douglas Bowditch Papers, 1888-1979, in the Archives of American Art.

1.2: Finding aid author/s
Provide the name/s of the author of the finding aid.

by Jayna Hanson

1.3: Date of publication
Provide the date of creation/publication of the finding aid.

February 2009

1.4: Sponsor (if applicable)
Provide the name of the sponsor/s if applicable. Note that some collections will have multiple sponsors. Perhaps one sponsor funded processing and another funded digitization, etc. Be sure you provide the full and complete name of the funder.

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation. Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

1.5: Contact information
Contact Information is built into the template.

Reference Department
Archives of American Art
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C. 20560
www.aaa.si.edu/askus

2. Collection Overview

2.1: Creator/s (DACS 2.6 and Chapter 9; also must match AAA SIRIS MARC record)
Provide the proper name of the creator, using the format of surname first for persons. For corporate names, use the proper name of the company. If a personal name is part of the corporate name, do not change the order of the names. When there are multiple creators, list only the one found in the SIRIS MARC record; co-creator names will be included in the added index terms/access points.

Pollock, Jackson (even though the title is Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers)
Perls Galleries (formal corporate name, not Perls, Klaus)
Leo Castelli Gallery (not Castelli, Leo)
Mills Family (for Robert Mills Family letters)

2.2: Title of collection (DACS 2.3; papers, records, family papers, letter collection, etc.)

Provide the title of the collection. 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, letters, collections (assembled), audio-visual collections, etc.

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.”

Usually the AAA SIRIS/MARC collection record already has the correct form of the title in the 245 field. However, review the title when you survey the collection, or as you process the collection, as it may need re-titled. For example, processing might reveal that a collection originally titled with two creators, such as a husband and wife, might really be the papers of only one primary creator. Perhaps a collection entitled “family papers” actually have only one primary creator, or the opposite might be true as well– papers thought to have one primary creator might prove to be family papers.

If the collection consists of a particular form of material, the title should identify this e.g. “Eastman Johnson letters” (not “Eastman Johnson Letter collection”); if the collection is an intentionally assembled collection consisting of different forms of material, the title should identify this e.g. “Winslow Homer collection.”

Robert Mills family letters
Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers
Lillian and Frederick Kiesler papers
Timothy Cole papers
Leo Castelli Gallery records
Dorothea Gilder papers regarding Cecilia Beaux
Margo Feiden Galleries printed materials regarding Al Hirschfeld
Everettt Shinn collection

2.3: Dates (DACS 2.4)

Provide the inclusive dates of the entire collection, expressed in years. When describing archival collections, you will almost always use the dates of creation, except for publication dates in series titles, series descriptions, or folder titles. AAA does not use the dates of the record keeping activity for collection dates. If the material being described is a reproduction, do not state this date in the collection inclusive dates, but, rather in the scope and content note/s.

If necessary, provide bulk dates. Limit the use of bulk dates in the title to when there is a significant gap between groups of dates. For very large gaps in inclusive dates, the date spans should be expressed separately (see below). You may include a reason for the gap (or unusually long date spans) in the Abstract and Scope and Content Note, in a sentence that is very close to the dates.

Never use “undated” in the title of a collection (or series title.) Do not use ca., use circa throughout the finding aid.

Charles Henry Hart papers, 1774-1930, bulk 1888-1918
Timothy Cole papers, 1883-1936
John Smith papers, 1910-1923, 1988

2.4: Abstract (DACS 3.1)

An abstract should briefly summarize biographical/historical information about the creator, the scope and content of the collection, and assist users to quickly identify whether the collection may be relevant to their research. It should note inclusive and bulk dates (if applicable), extent, and a very brief summary of the materials being described. It should be more than a mere listing of the types of materials found and provide users with a sense of the bulk of the materials, and what the various types of materials are about. Also explain the reason for any large gaps in inclusive dates.

When describing a collection that is very small, less than 0.2 linear feet, comprised primarily of letters, provide the number of letters/documents within the collection in the abstract.

Example 1: The papers of painter, author, and designer Nancy Douglas Bowditch measure 3.9 linear feet and date from 1888 to 1979. The papers reflect Bowditch's relationship with her husband William Robert Pearmain and her father George de Forest Brush, and other family members. The majority of the collection consists of Bowditch's correspondence with family and friends and her notes and writings, particularly concerning her father and her biography of him, The Joyous Painter, and her unpublished biography of her husband. There is also correspondence between Pearmain and his family. Also found are scattered family and biographical materials and personal business records; artwork by Pearmin, Bowditch, and George de Forest Brush; printed materials; and photographs of family and works of art.

Example 2: The papers of wood engraver Timothy Cole date from 1883-1936, and measure 0.5 linear feet. Found within the papers are letters primarily written by Timothy Cole to the editors of Century Magazine, and letters to Cole from colleagues Gifford Beal, Alice Brown, George de Forest Brush, Kenyon Cox, David Finney, Helen C. Frick, Joseph Pennell, Caroline Powell, John Singer Sargent, and Helen M. Turner. Also found are miscellaneous writings, artwork including wood engravings and printing plates, miscellaneous clippings and a photograph of Cole and his wife.

Example 3: The records of New York City Fischbach Gallery measure 24.9 linear feet and date from 1937 to 1977 with the bulk of materials dating from 1963 to 1977. The majority of the collection consists of artists files containing a wide variety of materials documenting the gallery's relationship with its stable of modern and avant-garde artists, as well as gallery exhibitions. Files include biographical materials, correspondence, printed materials, and photographs. Gallery records also include general business correspondence, access-restricted financial records; and additional printed materials.

Example 4: The papers of New York artist Lillian Kiesler and architect and sculptor Frederick Kiesler measure 48.2 linear feet and date from circa 1910s-2003, with the bulk of the material from 1958-2000. The collection documents their personal and professional lives and the legacy of Frederick Kiesler's work through biographical material, correspondence, legal, financial and business records, teaching files, exhibition and performance files, artwork, subject files, printed material, writings and interviews, monographs, photographic material, and sound recordings and motion picture film. Also found are papers related to Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann and the papers of artist Alice Hodges.

Example 5: The collected papers of painter Everett Shinn date from 1877-1958, and measure 3.0 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence with friends and colleagues; personal business records; art work, including two sketchbooks of designs for Belasco's Stuyvesant Theatre; notes and writings, eight scrapbooks, printed material, and numerous photographs of Shinn, his colleagues, and his work.

Example 6: The papers of sculptors Marion Sanford and Cornelia Chapin measure 3.0 linear feet and date from 1929-1988. Sanford and Chapin were close companions and shared a studio in New York City. The papers include scattered materials created by and about both women, including biographical materials, one folder of correspondence for each woman, a few writings and essays, newsclippings, exhibition catalogs, other printed materials, and four scrapbooks (three about Chapin and one about Sanford). Photographs are of Chapin only and of artwork of both women. There is also one sound recording of a radio interview with Chapin and several motion picture films of Chapin's home movies transferred onto video, mostly of her time working in Paris.

Example 7: The Jean Gabriel Lemoine papers relating to Morgan Russell are comprised of 20 items and date from 1921-1923, and 1964. The item dating from 1964 is a typescript of a letter fragment.

2.5: Extent (DACS 2.5)

Provide a description of the extent of the collection in linear feet or items if the collection is less than 0.2 linear feet. When describing a collection that is very small, less than 0.2 linear feet that is comprised primarily of letters, also provide the number of letters/documents in the abstract note and scope and content note.

Use the following measurements when calculating extent:

Cubic foot white storage boxes: 1.0 linear feet
Hol document/manuscript boxes: 0.4 linear feet
Pam ½ size document/manuscript boxes: 0.2 linear feet
Sol oversized gray lidded boxes: 0.3 linear feet
Oversized folders: 0.1 linear feet

2.6: Language of materials (DACS 4.5)

State the language of the collection. If one or more other languages are significantly represented in the collection mention them here.

Collection is in English.
Most of the collection is in English; some records are in Spanish.
Most of the collection is in English; some records are in French and Spanish.

3. Administrative Information

3.1: Provenance (DACS 5.2)

Provide basic information about the immediate source of acquisition of the collection, which should include the name of the donor, the date/s of the donation, and the relationship of the donor to the papers if the donor is not the creator.

Upon re-processing of older donations, AAA may choose to combine several donations which may have been previously cataloging as separate individual collections. If you are merging collections together, you may list all of the donors here.

Sometimes AAA borrowed materials for filming from a donor, which the donor later donated as a gift. If so, you may provide that information here, but do not include any reel numbers. Note that loans on microfilm are described in the Separated Materials Note.

DO NOT list materials or provide reel numbers in this element.

Example 1: The Ben Benn papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Benn's nephew, Peter Rosenberg, in 1988.

Example 2: Lillian Kiesler donated her papers and papers related to Frederick Kiesler in several increments between 1980-2000. She also donated papers related to Hans Hofmann in 1981. In 2002, circa 42 linear feet of material was donated from Lillian Kiesler's estate via Maryette Charlton executrix. Lillian Kiesler also lent material related to Frederick Kiesler for microfilming in 1971, which was included in later donations. The Frederick Kiesler materials were initially cataloged separately, but have been merged with the Lillian Kiesler papers.

Example 3: The records were donated by Robert Warshaw, executor of the Madeleine Chalette Lejwa estate in two accessions in 1997 and 2005.

Example 4: The Joseph Cornell papers were donated in several installments from 1974 to 1989 by Joseph Cornell’s sister, Betty Cornell Benton. Most, but not all, of the correspondence was loaned for microfilming in 1974, but subsequently donated in 1989. Additional material was donated in 2004 by the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

3.2: Separated Material note (if applicable; DACS 6.3)

Separated Material refers to portions of the papers related by provenance to the collection that have been physically separated or removed from the collection. Separated materials are not usually mentioned in the Provenance Note unless the material was loaned to AAA for microfilming and later donated. Separated materials are NOT described in AAA finding aids, but may be described in the SIRIS/MARC record as a loan on microfilm.

AAA defines separated materials as:

  • Material loaned to AAA for microfilming by the same donor or with the same provenance (provide specific reel #s for loaned material, if known).
  • Material donated by the same donor or with the same provenance that may have been separated from the collection in the past to form another AAA collection. This rarely occurs, but has in AAA’s past, mostly with family papers (see the Reginald Marsh example below) or corporate subsidiaries. At the time of processing, these separated collections should have been analyzed to determine if they should remain separated or merged back into the collection.
  • Do not confuse separated materials with related materials. Separated materials most likely share the same provenance and perhaps even the same creator. Related materials are collections related to the main creator - usually as a subject, a collection with a different provenance, or held by another repository.
  • Material separated/removed from the collection and transferred or given to another research repository, museum, or library.

Example 1: Originals of loaned material, including photographs of Dorothy Dehner and David Smith, sketchbooks, correspondence between Dehner and Smith, an inventory, and some printed material, were returned to Dehner after microfilming. Loaned material is available on reels D298, D298A, 1269, and 1472, but is not described in the container listing of this finding aid.

Example 2: A portion of the material donated to AAA with the Reginald Marsh papers was separated to create a new collection of Felicia Meyer Marsh and Meyer Family papers.

Example 3: Cornell’s sister, Betty Cornell Benton, donated Joseph Cornell’s source material and library, which included approximately 66 linear feet of three-dimensional and non-textual source material and 50 linear feet of books, to AAA in XXXX. AAA transferred this material to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Joseph Cornell Study Center in 1994 and 1995.

3.3: Location of Originals note (if applicable; DACS 6.1)

This element is used rarely at AAA to provide information about the existence, location and availability of originals when a portion of the collection consists of copies, such as photocopies or transcripts of letters, and the originals are maintained elsewhere. Generally, such information will be provided in the Separated Materials note; it is not necessary to repeat it here.

3.4: Related Material note (if applicable; DACS 6.3)

The Related Material/s note is used to record the existence of related archival materials and collections. Generally, these are collections at AAA or other repositories that are related by creator. They are not described in the finding aid or mentioned in the Provenance Note, and should have separate SIRIS records because they are simply different collections.

Unlike Separated Materials, Related Materials do not share the same provenance and may include AAA loans from other donors. Microfilmed loans that have a different provenance from the collection being described in the finding aid are properly classified as related collections, even though they may currently be included in the same SIRIS record. If you determine that a loan with a differing provenance is now included in the same SIRIS record, speak to the Chief of Collections Processing. She may recommend that the loan should be cataloged as a separate collection upon final cataloging.

In the past, AAA may have cataloged some collections as related, but separate, collections, even though they shared the same provenance. For example, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were once two collections that were merged upon re-processing because they were so closely inter-related and shared the same provenance. As outlined in the processing procedures, the processing archivist should initially review all related collections that show up in SIRIS with the same creator and determine whether these collections should be merged or remain simply “related.”

Also, upon your initial review prior to processing, you may find several small “related” collections of differing provenances that could possibly be merged as well for ease of use and ease of description in one finding aid. Usually these are miscellaneous manuscripts that do not share the same provenance, but were all created by the same creator. The documents may be somewhat random in nature, but could be merged. In this case, AAA would merge the small accessions into one, and rename them as “collection.” For example, several small accessions donated by different donors, but created by Everett Shinn were merged and became the Everett Shinn collection. Consult with your supervisor before merging any collections.

Examples of material that should not be included here are published monographs by or about the creator.

The Related Materials note in the finding aid is used to note:

  • AAA oral histories with or about the Main Creator of the collection.
  • AAA collections (gift and loan) that contain a substantial amount of materials created by the Main Creator, though have a different provenance or came from a different donor. A SIRIS search on title keyword often reveals related collections sharing the same Main Creator.
  • AAA collections containing substantial materials about the Main Creator.
  • Materials loaned to AAA for microfilming by another research or manuscript repository or individual lender that have been created by the same Main Creator.
  • Materials held by other research or manuscript repositories that were created by the same Main Creator. A search in RLIN will reveal holdings in other repositories; only list significant collections. Do not list contact information or attempt a lengthy description of collections held by other repositories.

Example 1: Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Reuben Kadish conducted by Paul Karlstrom, April 15, 1992. (Always provide the name of the interviewer.)

Example 2: The Archives also holds several collections related to the Solon H. Borglum family, including the Harriet Collins Allen papers relating to Solon Borglum and the Gutzon Borglum letters to John A. Stewart (available on microfilm reel D8, frames 359-362), and the Gutzon Borglum collection (available on microfilm only, reel 3056; originals reside at the San Antonio Museum of Art.) The Library of Congress also holds papers of Solon Hannibal Borglum and is the primary repository of the papers of Gutzon Borglum.

3.5: Alternate Forms Available note (if applicable; DACS 6.2)

This element is used to note the existence of copies and surrogates of the collection that are available for research use, such as microfilm and fully digitized versions of the collection. Do not reference microfilm versions that are no longer usable because several previously filmed and unfilmed collections have been merged or if the current arrangement of the original papers clearly bears no similarity to the arrangement of the papers when first microfilmed. If you feel the microfilm is still valid and usable because the current arrangement is close to the arrangement on film, then you should reference the reel numbers here.

Remember, the finding aid describes only the papers you are currently processing. This element does not reference loans on microfilm–these are separated materials.

For collections that have been fully digitized or where the bulk of the material has been digitized, make note of the materials that generally have not been digitized, such as duplicates, medical records, banking records, photographs of works of art, etc. (See AAA’s Guidelines for Digitizing Entire Collections)

AAA’s EAD encoding template has the boiler plate language you should use for this element, which you will enhance with additional information if needed.

For collections scanned in their entirety:
This collection was digitized in its entirety in 2009 and is available on the Archives of American Art’s website.

For collections that have the bulk or significant portions of the material digitized:
The bulk of this collection was digitized in 2009 and is available on the Archives of American Art’s website.

Also include a statement about the types of materials generally not scanned.

Example 1: Materials which have not been scanned include photographs of works of art; duplicates; medical, banking, and tax records; blank pages in bound volumes; blank versos of photographs; and exhibition catalogs of other artists. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages scanned.

Example 2: Portions of this collection were digitized in 2009 and are available on the Archives of American Art’s website. Germaine Seligmann’s personal papers concerning his research and personal art collection have not been scanned (Series 12).

For collections that are partially scanned and a significant portion is still available on microfilm:
Portions of this collection were digitized in 2006 and are available on the Archives of American Art’s website. The bulk of Walt Kuhn’s family papers were not scanned and are also available on microfilm reels XXXX-XXXX and for interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the papers as described in this finding aid does not/may not reflect the order of the papers on microfilm due to reprocessing.

For collections also available on microfilm:
This collection is OR Portions of this collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels XXXX-XXXX at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. If appropriate due to re-processing after filming, follow with: Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection/papers as described in this finding aid may not/does not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm due to reprocessing.

3.6: Processing Information Note (DACS 8.1.5)

The Processing Information note is used to document any and all relevant AAA processing and reformatting actions that have been completed over the years. Do not, however, repeat information provided in other elements, such as the Separated Material note or the Alternative Forms Available note.

If reel numbers are referenced in the Alternative Forms Available note, simply mention that the collection or portions of the collection were microfilmed. This is also the proper element at AAA to note reel numbers that are no longer in circulation because they are not a true reflection of the collection due to the merging of unfilmed materials, or because the arrangement bears no resemblance to the microfilm, and, therefore, are not listed in the Alternate Forms Available note. Remember, if the collection has been digitized, AAA prefers that the microfilm eventually be removed from service, but if you must reference it, use the Processing Information note.

Because any reformatting is an “action”, note if the collection has been fully or partially digitized and provide the year.

Always provide the name/s of funders in the Processing Note associated with the particular action they funded.

Always provide your name and year of processing. Provide the names of other archivists that may have worked on the collection earlier, if appropriate.

The Processing Information note should indicate if numerous accessions were merged, including those that may have been separate collections before processing.

If the level of processing is accession-level, minimal, or less than an AAA level 3 or 4, mention it here. You may also provide information about what portions of the collection were not fully processed, or what processing actions were not completed.

Example 1: Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation. The collection was typically microfilmed in the order in which it was received on reels 1058-1077, and 2729, except for the last donation by Benton, which was not microfilmed; the microfilm is no longer in circulation. All previously filmed and unfilmed accessions were merged, fully processed, arranged, and described by Jennifer Meehan in 2004-2005 with funding provided by the Getty Foundation and scanned in 2006 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Example 2: The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Haug in 2009, with funding provided by the Smithsonian’s Collections Care Pool Fund. Minimal processing included arrangement to the series, subseries, and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. Folders within boxes were not numbered. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders, but not all staples and clips were removed.

Example 3: The collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley, Erin Corley, and Pat Craig in 2000 with funding provided by the Getty Foundation. Portions of the collection were digitized in 2010 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Example 4: The collection was fully processed a finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald in 2010.

3.7: Preferred Citation (DACS 7)

Provide the official citation for the collection, including collection title, inclusive and bulk dates if applicable, and name of repository. Follow the same rules as above for the title and dates of the collection. The format of the citation statement is included in AAA’s EAD encoding templates.

Ralph Fabri papers, circa 1870s-1975, bulk 1918-1975. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

3.8: Restrictions on Access and Use (DACS 4.1 & 4.4)

Restrictions on Access
Use this element to provide a standard AAA statement of access to the original papers. The current format is always provided in AAA’s EAD encoding template and may change slightly from time to time. Occasionally, you may have to include additional information about a donor access restriction for all or part of the collection. Currently, the default statement is:

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership and Literary rights
Use this element to provide a standard AAA statement about intellectual property ownership and rights. The current format is always provided in AAA’s EAD encoding template and may change slightly from time to time. Occasionally, you may have to include additional information about a donor publication restriction or special circumstances. Currently, the default statement is:

Example 1: The person’s name papers/corporate name records are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Example 2: The person’s name papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. They may be used for research, study, and scholarship. Authorization to quote, publish or reproduce requires written permission from Leroy Neiman, One West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023.

3.9: Accruals (if applicable; DACS 5.4)

This element is rarely used at AAA, but may be used to provide information about known expected additions to the collection.

4. Biographical/Historical Note (DACS 2.7 & 10)

Each finding aid will include a brief narrative biographical note (for personal or family papers) or historical note (for corporate and organizational records.) The note is not meant to be a fully comprehensive biography or a history, but a reference that provides researchers with an overview of the creator’s life or history and the context for the archival materials being described in the finding aid.

Biographical/Historical notes should be of a reasonable length to match the complexity and size of the collection. Most collections do not need more than one or two paragraphs, and excessively long biographical/historical notes are often not read by users. The note should relate the creator/s’ life and/or functions to the content of the collection. Include enough information to explain how and why the materials were created, assembled, accumulated or maintained and used.

For example, if the papers contain a substantial amount of correspondence with artists, the biographical note should mention the context or activities of the creator that would have led to the creation of this type of material. Emphasis should be on the activities or functions of the creator to which the bulk of the collection relates.

The first sentence or two of every biographical or historical note should provide a very concise summary overview of the creator’s life or history–including birth and death dates or dates of operation, primary occupation or function, and primary geographic area where the creator lived and worked or where the business or organization was located. It’s helpful to include a brief sentence about what is notable about the creator. If these are the papers of a family or multiple papers, include a sentence that identifies the co-creators and provides the same type of information. This information can be mapped to the MARC 545 field.

Please note that many of our finding aids do not include this concise overview because it has only been a requirement in our finding aids since 2009, and generally we do not make retrospective changes.

For collections with multiple creators, the biographical note should provide some information about all of the creators, if known. For papers of families, at minimum identify all family names that are creators of the papers.

A chronology is another form of a biographical or historical note. AAA’s finding aids are generally restricted to either a narrative note or a chronology–rarely both. Because chronologies are particularly tedious to encode in EAD, please reserve their use for the most significant or complex collections.

Below are examples of the initial concise statement included in AAA’s biographical/historical notes. Please see AAA’s online finding aids for examples of full-length biographical/historical notes.

Example 1: Surrealist painter Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977) lived and worked in Chicago and was a prominent member of Chicago's Hyde Park arts community.

Example 2: Mark Green (1932-) moved to San Francisco and became active in the "Beat Movement" as a photographer, writer, and arts advocate. He helped organize two major group exhibitions of beat-era arts and also founded the Nanny Goat Hill Gallery in San Francisco.

5. Collection Level Scope and Content Note (DACS 3.1)

Scope and content notes are the core of archival description. Finding aids generally have several levels of scope and content notes, which would include an overall collection-level abstract note, a more detailed collection-level scope and content note, series and subseries level narrative descriptions, and added descriptive notes to folder headings if needed. This section covers the collection-level scope and content Note. Abstract notes were discussed in Section 2.

It is advised to write the scope and content note AFTER you have completed all of the processing. By then, you will have a much better understanding of the collection and its components. Often the collection-level scope and content note can be crafted by summarizing individual series descriptions.

Provide a full narrative summary description of the scope and contents of the collection. The first paragraph of the overall Scope and Content Note should simply be copied and pasted from the abstract note. (Note: best practices often dictate that a finding aid should have no redundancies. However, AAA’s finding aids must repeat the abstract note for proper display on our website.) Follow this paragraph with brief narrative descriptive overviews of each of the series within the collection, in the order of the series arrangement. More detailed descriptive information about the scope and content of individual series should be at the component/series further down in the finding aid. Series descriptions and overall scope and content notes should not be redundant.

At this level, the Scope and Content Note should provide more detail than the Abstract Note, but it is still an overview of the entire collection. The Scope and Content Note should also include summary information about documentary forms, subjects, dates, important names, geographic areas, functions, and primary research value or significance.

AAA’s cataloger will provide index terms based on the collection-level scope and content note only. Therefore, it is important that you include any significant names here, within reason. Also, list the form and genre of the materials and specify the exact number of any diaries, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and photograph albums. Aside from these particular formats, it is not necessary to count the number of items, unless it is an extremely small collection comprised entirely of one specific format, such as letters, photographs, diaries, etc.

The information in a collection-level scope and content note should allow users to judge the potential or relevance of the collection to their specific research area, and not be so generic as to be indistinguishable from other collections. In today’s online environment, lengthy scope and content notes are generally not favored.

Information about the arrangement of the collection should not be covered in the Scope and Content Note, but detailed in a separate Arrangement Note.

Additional examples of collection-level Scope and Content Notes can be found in AAA’s online finding aids.

The papers of sculptor Hiram Powers measure 12.2 linear feet and date from 1819 to 1953, with the bulk of the material dating from 1835 to 1883. Over two-thirds of the collection consists of Powers' correspondence, which is particularly rich in documenting his artwork, methodology, and his interaction with business associates, purchasers of his artwork, and his numerous friends in the United States and Florence, Italy. Other papers include scattered biographical material, writings by Powers and others, financial and legal records, news clippings and printed items, photographs of Powers, his family, artwork, as well as an extensive collection of carte de visite and cabinet card portraits of many notable figures. Also found is a small amount of artwork by Powers and others, a scrapbook, and two autograph and memorabilia albums.

Biographical material consists of documents for honors conferred on Powers, price lists and inventories of his artwork, papers regarding his death, including a translation of his will, and ephemera, such as his studio cap.

The bulk of the collection consists of Powers’ correspondence with family, friends, business associates, and others, documenting his career as an artist and his personal life after he and his family moved to Florence, Italy, in 1837. Almost all of the letters have typed unconfirmed transcriptions completed by volunteers at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Besides details of his studio work and business dealings, his letters often discuss his views on aesthetics, American politics, slavery and the Civil War, and Spiritualism. Notable correspondence is with William B. Astor, Edward Everett, Samuel York Atlee, William and E. Clementine Kinney, George P. Marsh, George Peabody, Presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, William Cullen Bryant, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John C. Calhoun, Thomas Crawford, John A. Dix, Asher Durand, Charles Francis Fuller, Henry Peters Gray, Horace Greeley, George P. A. Healy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Samuel F. B. Morse, W. W. Story, John Sartain, Frances Trollope, and Daniel Webster.

Writings by Powers include his "Studio Memorandum," a journal-type notebook he kept from 1841 to 1845, which contains dated notations of letters written, receipts and expenditures, business contacts, works in progress, commissions and price quotations for work, comments on problems encountered during studio work, and other notes. Additional writings include poetry and autobiographical essays and instructions for handling his sculptures. Writings by others include poetry, most of which was written in praise of Powers' artwork. Of note are handwritten transcripts of poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Bayard Taylor, and John Quincy Adams. Also found here are short writings about Powers and his artwork.

Scattered financial and legal records in this collection include patent documents for tools invented by Powers, legal agreements, account statements, and bills and receipts. Printed material consists of news clippings, two booklets, an art association brochure, and an exhibition catalog for works by Powers.

This collection contains photographs of Hiram Powers, his family, friends, notable public figures, and artwork. Many of the photographs were taken by his son, Longworth Powers, who had a private photography studio in Florence. Included are portraits of Powers and his family, as well as a collection of 267 carte de visite and cabinet card portraits of artists, performers, politicians, writers, scientists, and other public figures, many of whom were friends with the Powers family. Other photographs depict Woodstock, Vermont, the marble quarry at Carrara, Italy, and artwork by Hiram and Preston Powers. Also found here is a photograph album kept by Louisa Powers.

Artwork consists of three drawings by Hiram Powers, including a caricature of Miner Kellogg. Also found in this collection is a scrapbook containing news clippings regarding the American tour of the sculpture Greek Slave, an autograph album belonging to Louisa Powers, and an album containing pencil drawings by Preston Powers and dried flowers collected on travels.

6. Arrangement (DACS 3.2)

This is a general statement about the intellectual arrangement of the entire collection into series and other necessary information about order and arrangement. The arrangement note should always include a list of series titles, with dates, container numbers and extent, even if the collection is so small or minimally processed that it is only arranged as one series. This list serves as an online hyperlink to each individual series.

Extent should always be stated in linear feet, unless less than 0.2 feet. If less than 0.2 linear ft., state the extent of each series as the number of folders. For small collections less than 0.2 linear feet that are only comprised of one format, state the extent in the number of items, such as “24 letters.”

Arrangement notes that are specific only to particular series should be included in the appropriate series description arrangement notes, including any lists of subseries.

Example 1: Due to the small size of this collection the papers are arranged as one series.
Series 1: Audrey McMahon Papers, 1925-1948 (Box 1; 8 folders)

Example 2: The collection is arranged as 3 series. Records are generally arranged by material type and chronologically thereafter.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1928-1937, circa 1961 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920-1974 (Box 1; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, 1924-1930 (Boxes 1-3; 1.5 linear feet)

7. Names and Subject Terms (DACS 11-14; MARC 6XX, 7XX)

At AAA, the staff cataloger will provide the name and subject terms according to standard authorities, such as LOC Name and Subject Authorities and Art & Architecture Thesauri. She will provide the terms based on information found in the Scope and Content Note/Historical Note of your finding aid, so be sure to include the most important and most relevant information there.

After she provides the index terms, you will enter the terms into the finding aid, minus the delineators $. You will also need to replace some delineators with --. For example,

Robinson, Boardman, $d1876-1952 becomes Robinson, Boardman, 1876-1952.

$aPoems$2aat becomes Poems. The $2aat means that she used aat as the authority, not the default LOC; delete LOC and replace it with aat.

$aGraphic arts$zNew York (State)$zNew York becomes Graphic arts, New York (State)–New York.

8. Series Descriptions/Folder Inventory/Container Listing (DACS Multilevel Description or Component Descriptions

In this section of the finding aid, provide detailed information about each series represented in the hierarchical archival arrangement of the collection. The EAD format refers to each nested level in the hierarchy as a component. A component can be any easily recognizable archival entity such as a series, subseries, folder, or item. In the finding aid, the entire section is entitled Series Descriptions/Container Listing. Refer to AAA’s EAD Encoding Guidelines for detailed instructions on encoding component levels.

Based on the physical and intellectual arrangement of the collection, the finding aid may have three kinds of hierarchies within a series.

  1. Series arranged by folders–most common and usually preferred.
  2. Series arranged by subseries and folders–sometimes needed for complex collections.
  3. Series arranged as subseries, and further divided into sub-subseries.and folders–rarely needed.

As a general rule collections should only be divided into subseries if the series is complex or large enough to justify it. 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 should be rare that more than 3 are ever needed. Remember, the less complex the arrangement, the easier it is for the user to understand and follow the finding aid.

For small groups of folders with the same or similar materials, a creative folder title is adequate. For example, it is not necessary to divide the following 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
1-5 Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Solo Exhibitions, 1936-1987 (5 folders)
6 Exhibition Catalogs for Riveron’s Group Exhibitions, 1931-1990s
7 Exhibitions Catalogs for Other Artists, 1945-1961
8-9 New Clippings About Riveron, ca, 1930s-1983 (2 folders)
10 News Clippings About Other Artists, 1957-1985
11 Periodical, Modern Hispanic Magazine, 1935
12 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 becomes difficult to read and understand. 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, and have the remaining materials in file units only. The title of the folder or file 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

Provide information about each series in the following order.

  • Series ID: Series number, title, dates, container numbers, extent

Series 3: Writings, circa, 1930s-1965 (Boxes 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)

  • Series description (scope and content note)

A series description is a brief summary of the scope and content of the series. It is mandatory at the series level, optional at the subseries level, and discouraged at the sub-subseries level. The series scope note will include additional information about the series that was not included in the overall collection-level scope and content note–additional names, relationships, formats, subjects, or more detail on subjects, etc.

Example 1: Writings date from circa 1930s-1965 and include Sheeler's journal dated from circa 1950s-1963. The journal includes poems, writings, transcribed correspondence, transcribed articles (which were later published), and a paper delivered at a symposium on photography held at the Museum of Modern Art in October 1950. Two notebooks dating from about the same time includes miscellaneous notes and writings, addresses, and recipes. Additional writings by Sheeler include an article that he wrote for Arts Magazine, writings on artists, and a manuscript of an unpublished autobiography, along with notes and drafts.

Example 2: This series contains writings by Herman Baron concerning the founding and the history of the ACA Galleries, ACA artists, and the clash of McCarthyism and American art. Also found are writings by ACA artists Philip Evergood and Anton Refregier, and art critic Elizabeth McCausland.

Example 3: Artist and subject files contain business correspondence, sales information, photographs and transparencies, catalogs, and exhibit reviews for each artist either represented or sold by the gallery, or whom participated in an exhibition organized by the gallery. Particularly rich files are found for Alcopley, Stephen Antonakos, Alexander Calder, Pietro Consagra, Giorgio De Chirico, Max Ernst, Pedro Friedeberg, Sam Gilliam, Mathias Goeritz, Sarah Grilo, Roberto Sabastiano Matta, Clement Meadmore, Constantino Nivola, Sylvia Sleigh, Paul Talman, and Jack Youngerman.

  • Series arrangement note

Provide information about the arrangement of the series, if needed. Generally, this information is not required, unless the series is further divided into subseries.

Writings are arranged chronologically.

  • Series with subseries arrangement note and scope and content note

For series with subseries, the arrangement note is a list of subseries. Additional scope and content notes may be added for each subseries, if needed.

Series 3: Writings, circa, 1930s-1965 (Boxes 1-2; 1.4 linear feet)
This series is arranged as 3 subseries:
1: Lectures by Erle Loran, XXXX-XXXX
2: Essays by Erle Loran, XXXX-XXXX
3: Writings by Others, XXXX-XXXX

  • Series with subseries and sub-subseries arrangement note

For series with subseries and sub-subseries, start by providing the series number, title, date, extent. Follow with the subseries arrangement note/list as in the example above. You will then create an additional arrangement note for each of the subseries that is a list of the sub-subseries. Extent and scope and content notes are not added to sub-subseries. (See EAD Encoding Guidelines and Template for additional examples and templates for formatting Series/Subseries/Sub-subseries arrangement notes.)

  • Container Listing and File Unit/Folder Inventory.

For each series, subseries, and subseries, you will provide a container listing and file unit/folder inventory. Each folder is numbered according to its place in a container, not its place in the series. Physical descriptions at the folder level are used for stating the number of folders, if there is more than one. Also include any reference notes for oversized separated materials in the physical description field.

You can include folder level scope and content notes if needed for clarification–often useful for detailing special items within a folder, or for providing a list of names associated with the folder.

Box Folder
1 12 Autobiographical Manuscript, 1937 (Oversized in Box 19)
1 13-14 Notebooks, 1950-1952 (2 folders; oversized also in OV 20)
1 15 Journal, circa 1950s-1963
1 16-20 Essays, 1952 (5 folders)

19 1 Oversized Autobiographical Manuscript, 1937 (From Box 1, F 12)

OV 20 Oversized Notebook, 1950 (From Box 1, F13)

9. Other Descriptive Data - Indexes (if applicable; DACS 7, notes; MARC 500)

AAA’s finding aids allow only two types of indexes. You may create an index that references the entire collection, such as a list of exhibitions, association officers, etc. You may also create an index that references materials in one series, usually a list of correspondents or selected correspondents and relevant dates. Only one index per series is allowed, and, generally, no more than two indexes per finding aid. The EAD encoding for indexes is structured very specifically so that the indexes are displayed to AAA’s preferences. AAA’s EAD encoding templates contain the correct tags, format, and instructions which must be followed carefully.

Limit use of indexes as much as possible, particularly for fully digitized collections. Alternatives might include arranging the folders in a series in an alphabetical arrangement; simply listing the names of correspondents in the series descriptions if fewer than 10 names; listing names associated with a folder as a scope and content note for the folder, which usually is effective only if the names for each folder are not repetitive.

In the series index example shown below, individual letters for each correspondent’s name have been listed. For most collections, a year date/s would be sufficient. Also, it is not necessary to identify the occupation of the indexed names.

Index: Notable Correspondents from 1.3: Correspondence

  • Adams, Alva B. : 18 Oct 1938, 05 Apr 1941
  • Akerson, George (Secretary to the President): 10 Jul 1929
  • Albright, Horace M. (Director, National Park Service): 02 Dec 1932
  • Alexander, D.: undated
  • Allen, Henry J. : May 13, 1930
  • Allison, William B. : 03 Jun 1906
  • Alston, Frank H., Jr. : 22 Jul 1947
  • Anderson, Clint : 13 Sep 1945
  • Andrews, Marietta: undated, 05 Feb 1925 (illustrated letter), 16 Sep 1928 (illustrated letter), Jan 1930
  • Arnold, Oren (writer): 04 Mar 1944

Below is an example of an index references the entire collection.
Below is a chronological listing of Downtown Gallery exhibitions, culled from catalogs and checklists, invitations and announcements, press releases, newspaper reviews, advertisements, lists compiled by gallery staff, and The Archives of American Art Collection of Exhibition Catalogs (1979).

Undated
Jan. 24-Feb. 1 American Landscapes: Paintings and Water Colors
Mar. 3-28 [1964?] Abraham Rattner: New Paintings, 1961-1963
June Art for 13,000,000
Sept. 17-27 Abraham Rattner: Stained Glass Window Designed for the De Waters Art Center, Flint, Michigan
1926
Nov. [6-] Opening Exhibition: Small Works by Leading American Contemporary Artists
Dec. [4-] The Christmas Exhibition, $10-50
1927
Jan. 8-Feb. 4 American Marines
Jan. 8-Feb. 4 Print Room Selection
Feb. [5-] George Overbury "Pop" Hart
Mar. 1-19 George C. Ault: Water Colors and Drawings

10. Other Finding Aid (if applicable; DACS 4.6; No MARC equivalent)

AAA rarely, if ever, notes other finding aids. The field is intended to reference other finding aids, lists, or inventories of the collection being described in the finding aid. An example might be a list of microfilm reel contents, for example.

11. Bibliography (if applicable; DACS 8.1.3; No MARC equivalent)

AAA rarely notes bibliographies in its finding aids. If used, note information about sources used or consulted when writing the finding aid.

Style Guidelines

Dates

Dates are required for all unit titles: collection, series, subseries, and folders/file units. The exception are unit titles for folder groupings–the dates are required for the physical file units/folders that follow the title of the folder grouping.

Dates refer to the actual dates of the materials being described. If the material is a reproduction or image of an original, DO NOT use the date of the original.

Bulk dates are expressed as 1906-1988, bulk 1945-1988. Do not use parenthesis.

Do not use the word ca. Use circa.

Series or subseries titles may not use the word undated. According to DACS and USMARC, you must try to estimate something. DACS has some good examples: probably 1867; approximately 1925; before (or after) 1867; 1890s; circa 1975, 1970s.

Although not desirable, AAA allows the use of the word undated in the folder title. However, it is a practice to be avoided. Do not use n.d. for undated, use the full word undated.

Year date spans are expressed as: XXXX-XXXX. There is no spacing before or after the dash. It is acceptable to use circa before either or both year dates in a span of dates.

DACS states that single exact dates are expressed as year, month, day: 1906 March 17. Do not use the following format: 1 March 1969; use 1969 March 1.

Single year dates and months or a span of months are expressed as 1975 March-August.

Avoid using date formats with slashes dd/mm/yyyy in finding aids as these should be reformatted to match ISO standards.

In narrative text, it is acceptable to use other standards, such as March 1, 1978 or March 1978.

Exhibition Titles

Exhibition titles as folder or file unit titles are expressed in quotation marks, followed by the date/s of the exhibition in parenthesis, followed by the dates of the archival materials in the date field. 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.

For example:

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

Extent

Use the following measurements when calculating extent for collections, series, and subseries.

Cubic foot white storage boxes: 1.0 linear feet
Hol document/manuscript boxes: 0.4 linear feet
Pam ½ size document/manuscript boxes: 0.2 linear feet
Sol oversized gray lidded boxes: 0.3 linear feet
Oversized folders: 0.1 linear feet
Less than 0.2 linear feet, express in # of folders

At the folder/file unit level, express the number of folders if more than one in the EAD physical description tag.

Exhibition catalogs, 1943-1945 (3 folders)

Oversized Folders and Boxes (OVs & Sols)

In physical arrangement and finding aids, cubic foot (white Hollinger) boxes always come first, followed by “hols,” “pams,” “sols,” and “OVs.”

All containers are numbered sequentially, regardless of type. Do not differentiate between linear foot boxes and hols, pams, and sols as container types. They are simply listed as boxes, except for OVs. In the container listing, include “OV” as part of the folder number.

References to oversized materials are made in the <physdesc> tag at the <unittitle> level. At the folder heading/unit title where the material has been removed, use the following language, in parenthesis:

<physdesc>(Oversized material/items housed in Box # or OV#)</physdesc>

At the folder heading in the oversized container, also in <physdesc>, use the following language in parenthesis:

<physdesc>(Oversized material/items from Box #, F#)</physdesc>
OR FOR COLLECTIONS SCANNED
<physdesc> (Oversized material scanned with Box #, F#) </physdesc>

For entire folders of oversized materials removed and housed elsewhere, create a dummy folder with a folder number in the box and create a unit/folder title in the regular folder sequence.

For oversized items removed from folders, insert a handwritten note within the folder that informs the user in which oversized box/container/folder the item has been filed. In the oversized folder or oversized box create a handwritten note or that indicates the regular box number and folder title from where the material was removed.

Examples:
(Oversized material housed in Box ## or OV ##)
(Oversized materials scanned with Box ##, F##)
(Oversized materials from Box ##, F##)

It is acceptable to combine these notations with other information within the <physdesc> tag, such as the # of folders, using the following format

(2 folders; Oversized material housed in Box ## or OV ##)

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