Glossary

Our catalogue uses standards-based archives terminology that you may not be familiar with. This glossary of terms helps define and describe some of the terms and concepts used within the catalogue. Extract of relevant terms from AtoM (Access to Memory) Glossary:

Access points: An access point is a name, term, keyword, phrase or code that may be used to search, identify and locate an archival description. In our catalogue these are divided into subject, name or place access points and can be used to find related archival descriptions, for example all the archival descriptions related to ‘Consultation’ or ‘Defence’, or all those related to ‘NATO’. You can search by access points by selecting ‘Subjects’ in the drop down menu at the top of the interface, symbolized by the compass icon.

Accruals: An addition to an existing archive. Where the phrase 'Further accruals are expected' is used, more material is likely to be added to the archive in the future.

Archival description: A body of information about an archival record or records. This typically includes the name or title of the record, the date it was created, and a description of what it is. At present the catalogue displays ‘Fonds’ or collection level descriptions for the NATO publicly disclosed archive collections. This is the highest level of description, summarising the contents of a group of records created or accumulated and used by a particular person, family or corporate body. A simple search of our catalogue will display archival descriptions by default, but you can also search by authority record, digital object or subject.

Authority record: Authority records are collections of information about actors - corporate bodies, persons, or families - who interact with archival materials, typically as creators or subjects. They contain important contextual information, such as dates of existence, administrative or biographical history, and other forms of names by which the actor is known. They also include the relationship of the actor to other authority records or archival descriptions and this can be really useful for researchers. You can view key parts of the authority record in the archival description, or open it as a separate page by clicking on the name of the creator. You can also search by authority record by selecting ‘Authority Record’ in the drop down menu at the top left of the interface.

Conditions of access and use: This section of an archival description provides information on the legal status or other regulations that restrict or affect access to the record or records described. This might also include technical requirements affecting access, for example if video tapes, cassettes or computer files are included.

Date(s): In an archival description, this is the date a record was created. When more than one date is displayed, for example ‘1949 – 1989’, these indicate the date of creation of the earliest and latest record within the collection or fonds. In an authority record dates represent the 'dates of existence' of a person, family or corporate body.

Name of creator: This is displayed in the archival description and is the person, family or corporate body that created, accumulated and/or maintained the records described in the conduct of personal or corporate activity. In our catalogue, creators have their own authority records which provide important contextual information (see ‘authority records’ above). You can view key parts of the authority record in the archival description, or open it as a separate page by clicking on the name of the creator.

Reference code: This is the unique identifying code given to each archive collection and displayed at the top of the archival description. All items within a particular collection will be labelled with this code, followed by a series of numbers or letters. For example, The North Atlantic Council fonds has the reference code ‘NAC’.
It is useful for you to make a note of the reference code of a record that you are interested in within the catalogue. If you then wish to make further enquiries about it, quote this reference code when you contact us and we will know exactly which section of the archive you are referring to.

Scope and content: This is displayed in the archival description and summarises the scope (such as time periods and geographical location) and content (the format of the record and its subject matter) of the record or group of records described. At fonds level this is not an exhaustive list, but rather an overview to enable users to judge the potential relevance of the collection to their research. More detail about individual items can be found at lower levels of the catalogue.