Standards > Archives


Standards > Records Management

"Archives are the records of an institution or organization that are determined to have permanent value either as evidence of the operation of that institution or because they provide important information about people, places, events, or phenomena. In addition, the word archives can also mean the administrative unit responsible for the permanent records or the building in which the records are housed" (Peterson, p. 267). All archives are records, but not all records are archives.

Archival Documents, Primary Sources, Manuscripts and Archives Tutorial, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.

Personal papers are groups of documents having some coherence or common identity, but generally without the nature of a complete record characteristic of an archival or records collection. They are " ... documents, but unlike records that by definition originated in an institution or organization, [they] are the private documents accumulated by an individual, belonging to him or her and subject to his or her disposition. Like records, personal papers have an organic unity, for a body of personal papers is formed naturally over the course of a person's life. . . " (Peterson, p. 267).

Archival Documents, Primary Sources, Manuscripts and Archives Tutorial, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.


The Society of American Archivists

  1. A Code of Ethics for Archivists with Commentary
  2. Standards, Statement of SAA Goals & Objectives
  3. Major Guidelines Adopted by SAA Since 1994
    1. Guidelines for the Evaluation of Archival Institutions (1994)
    2. ALA-SAA Joint Statement on Access: Guidelines for Access to Original Research Materials (1994)

Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook, Society of American Archivists, compiled by Victoria Irons Walch for the Working Group on Standards for Archival Description with contributions by Marion Matters.

Standards describes technical standards, conventions, and guidelines used by archivists in describing holdings and repositories. They are applied in a variety of systems and products, including automated information systems, manual and automated catalogs, in-house finding aids, book and serial publications, and filing and storage systems. Detailed entries are provided for 86 standards, while another 157 are identified in summary lists. Introductions to each chapter discuss the historical development and interrelationships among standards used for particular applications.

Guidelines for the Preparation of Policies on Library Access prepared by the ACRL Access Policy Guidelines Task Force, C&RL News, December, 1992. Posted at American Library Association.

Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index (four volume set) is the 21st edition, 1996. The latest Abridged DDC and Relative Index (one volume) is the 13th edition, 1990. Available from publisher, OCLC Forest Press. Updates to the current edition are available.

Library of Congress Subject Headings, 26th edition (2003), Library of Congress.


Museum Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections, National Park Service. This document provides guidance on, and outlines procedures for, museum record keeping, including accessioning, cataloging, loans, deaccessioning, photography, and reporting annual collection management data.

Appendix D: Museum Archives and Manuscript Collections (742K PDF file), Museum Handbook, Part II: Museum Records, National Park Service

Conserve O Gram, Museum Management Program (MMP), National Park Service

The Museum Management Program (MMP) is part of the National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship and Partnership Programs that provides national program support functions for park resources and advises the Associate Director, Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnership in Washington, DC, on policy. MMP supports development and coordination of servicewide policies, standards, and procedures for managing museum collections, including natural, cultural, archival and manuscript materials. The following resources are particularly relevant:

  • 19/4 Archives: Preservation Through Photocopying [PDF file]
  • 19/7 Archives: Reference Photocopying [PDF file]
  • 19/9 Caring for Blueprints and Cyanotypes [PDF file]
  • 19/15 Storing Archival Paper-Based Materials [PDF file]
  • 19/16 Housing Archival Paper-Based Materials [PDF file]
  • 19/17 Handling Archival Documents and Manuscripts [PDF file]
  • 19/18 How to Care for Bound Archival Materials [PDF file]
  • 19/21 Planning Digital Projects for Preservation and Access [PDF file]
  • 19/22 Managing Digital Projects for Preservation and Access [PDF file]
  • 20/1 Museum Facility Specifications: Selected References [PDF file]

Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Trust

Administration in Introduction to Archival Organization and Description:Access to Cultural Heritage, Getty Standards and Digital Resource Management Program, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Trust

Recording information about collections is also an administrative necessity. An effectively managed institution creates and maintains a record of the activities it carries out with respect to its collections: acquiring, processing, conserving, exhibiting, storing, loaning, and providing reference services. Collections are as valuable an asset as financial or human resources; this value is protected by means of appropriate administrative information.

Provenance Index Database, Getty Research Institute. The Provenance Index Databases contain information related to the history of collecting and the provenance of individual works of art, primarily Western European paintings. Indexed transcriptions of sales catalogs, archival documents, and museum files are contained within, and serve as primary source material for establishing history of ownership

Introduction to Archival Organization and Description: Access to Cultural Heritage, Getty Information Institute. An introduction to principles of organization and description used in archives. A first step towards acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to provide access to the rich cultural heritage information in archival collections. Links to additional resources for further archival training such as workshops, readings, professional organizations, archival education programs and conferences.

New England Archivists, c/o Massachusetts Archives, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, Massachusetts 02125.

Caring for Cultural Material 1, Volume One (Paper, Books, Photographs, Paintings, Electronic Information Media), reCollections: Caring for Collections Across Australia, Commonwealth of Australia on behalf of the Heritage Collections Council (2000).

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