Search the Archives

  • Access – The use of records and collections for the purpose of viewing and understanding their contents, as a way of furthering research, or for simple personal knowledge of facts.
  • Access control – Restrictions on access to records which are exercised for reasons stipulated by legislation, or for reasons of format and/or the physical preservation of the records to which access has been requested.
  • Access request – A user’s formal request to view documents in the custody or control of an archival institution through channels created by policy.
  • Access review – The review of information initiated by a user’s request for access to documents by an archival professional appointed for that purpose.
  • Accession
    • The act and procedures involved in formally accepting and recording the physical and legal transfer of material into the custody of an archives.
    • A body of material from the same donor taken into archival custody at the same time. This acquisition may occur through gift, donation with tax appraisal, purchase, copy loan, or transfer.
  • Appraisal
    • The process of determining the value and thus the disposition of documents based upon their current administrative, legal and fiscal value; their arrangement; their medium and format; their condition and future preservation; their accessibility and their relationship to other documents.
    • The monetary evaluation of documents.
  • Archival value – The determination, through appraisal, that documents are worthy of indefinite or permanent preservation by an archives due to their administrative, fiscal, legal, evidential, and/or informational value.
  • Archives
    • An institution responsible for the appraisal, acquisition, preservation, and provisions of access to archival documents.
    • A building or part of a building in which archival materials are preserved and made available for consultation.
    • see Fonds.
  • Arrangement – The intellectual and physical operations involved in the analysis and organization of records. Based upon the principle of provenance, and especially the principle of original order, the purpose of arrangement is to group the components of a fonds into an order which reflects the system by which the documents were originally created and used. Such a system will:
    • reflect the structure and/or functions of the creator;
    • show relationships between records; and
    • demonstrate the original meaning and significance of the documents. If no original order is evident, then an order based upon other criteria (such as functions, or alphabetical, chronological, geographical, or subject order) may be used. Arrangement may be carried out at all or any of the following levels: repository, fonds, sous fonds, series, subseries, file unit, or item.
  • Collection – An artificial accumulation of documents of any provenance brought together on the basis of some common characteristic, e.g., way of acquisition, subject, language, medium, type of document, name of collector, to be treated for description purposes as a descriptive unit under a common title.
  • Collections file – A file containing the essential physical, administrative, and intellectual control documentation for a fonds, sous-fonds, or record series. It serves as a permanent record of archival management.
  • Collector – The person or corporate body that put together a collection.
  • Control (of a record) – The power or authority to make a decision about the use or disclosure of the record.
  • Copyright – The exclusive right, granted by law, of the creator of a work (or his/her assignees or employers) to make or dispose of copies and otherwise to control the use of a literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, or other work. The Copyright Act in Canada is not concerned with ideas or the originality of ideas; it is the language or the expression of the idea which is the subject matter of copyright.
  • Corporate body – An organization or group of persons that is identified by a particular name and that acts, or may act, as an entity. Typical examples of corporate bodies are associations, institutions, business firms, nonprofit enterprises, governments, government agencies, religious bodies, local churches, and conferences.
  • Creator – See Provenance.
  • Culling – The removal of non-archival material from file units during the processing of a series. The documents removed may be returned to the donor, donated to another archival institution, or destroyed.
  • Custodial history – The history of the custody of the material being described, i.e., its successive transfers of ownership and custody. See also Provenance and Respect des fonds.
  • Custody (of a record) – The keeping, care, watch, preservation or security of a record. While physical possession of a record may not always constitute custody, it is the best evidence of custody.
  • De-accession – A formal act which allows an institution to remove permanently from its holdings items deemed no longer to be of archival value, or within the repository’s acquisitions mandate or responsibilities.
  • Description – The process of recording information about the nature and content of the records in archival custody. The description identifies such features as provenance, extent, arrangement, format, and contents, and presents them in a standardized form.
  • Evidential value – The value of the records of an institution or organization in providing evidence of the institution’s origins, structure, functions, procedures, and significant transactions, as distinct from the informational value of the records.
  • Finding aids – Descriptive tools, e.g., registers, guides, inventories, indexes, containing information about records in archival custody that establish administrative, physical, or intellectual control over the holdings of an archives, and make it possible to retrieve particular records or information from these archives.
  • Fonds – The whole of the records, regardless of form or medium, automatically and organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular individual, family, or corporate body in the course of that creator’s activities or functions.
    • Note: The fonds is the highest level of description in a multilevel description in a particular repository. For the purposes of these rules, that part of a fonds that is actually present in the repository is what is described at the fonds level of description. A fonds is not equivalent to an accession. A fonds may contain two or more accession units; similarly, an accession may contain more than one fonds.
  • Freedom of Information Coordinator – An official of a public institution holding public records appointed to administer and coordinate the institution’s access operations and services required by legislation or policy.
  • Intellectual control – The control established over the informational content of a body of material, resulting from ascertaining and documenting its provenance and from the processes of arrangement and description.
  • Multimedia – A record which combines two or more media types but which, for reasons of intellectual continuity, must be conceived of as a single entity (e.g., a slide tape program).
  • Preservation – All actions taken to retard deterioration of, or to prevent damage to, cultural property. Preservation involves controlling the environment and conditions of use, and may include treatment in order to maintain an object, as nearly as possible, in an unchanging state.
  • Process
    • A collective term referring to the series of activities required to gain intellectual control of records, papers, or collections, including: accessioning, arrangement, culling, boxing, labelling, description, and preservation.
    • In photography, the chemical treatment of exposed film to induce the latent image to emerge.
    • With respect to automated records, the inputting of data into a data bank so that the data may be manipulated and called forth to serve a variety of needs.
  • Provenance – The person(s) or office(s) of origin of records, i.e., the person(s), family (families), or corporate body (bodies) that created and/or accumulated and used records in the course of that creator’s activities or functions. See also Custodial history and Respect des fonds.
  • Recorded information – Information that is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, mechanical or other means
  • Record(s) – Any document(s) created in the course of practical activity that is recorded evidence of that activity; such as a letter, memorandum, report, computer database file, electronic mail, audio recording (voice message), video tape or film, photograph, map, drawing and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored.
  • Research agreement – A legal document which allows researchers to gain complete access to records, subject to certain confidentiality terms and conditions.
  • Respect des fonds – The principle that the records of a person, family or corporate body must be kept together in their original order, if it exists or has been maintained, and not be mixed or combined with the records of another individual or corporate body. See also Custodial history and Provenance.
  • Restrictions on access – The conditions governing access to all or part of the material being described, including any laws, regulations, policies, donor terms, or any other relevant access conditions.
  • Retrieval (archival) – The search for, and presentation of, archival material in response to a specific user request.
  • Series – Archives – A subdivision of a fonds maintained as an entity because the documents relate to a particular function or subject, result from the same activity, have a particular form, or because of some other relationship arising out of the circumstances of their creation or use.
  • Series — Printed materials
    • group of separate items related to one another by the fact each item bears, in addition to its own title proper, a collective title applying to the group as a whole. The individual items may or may not be numbered;
    • each of two or more volumes of essays, lectures, articles, or other writings, similar in character and issued in sequence;
    • a separately numbered sequence of volumes within a series or serial.
  • Sous fonds – A body of related records within a fonds, usually consisting of the records of an important subordinate administrative unit or family unit. Sous fonds may also be established for related bodies of documents within a fonds that can best be defined in terms of chronological, functional, or geographical relationships. Sous fonds may be divided into as many further levels as are necessary to reflect the hierarchical organizational units within the subordinate administrative unit, or that will assist in grouping series in terms of their relationships.