Course:3: Processing
Lesson:Lesson 2: Arrangement
Topic:Collections and Series
 

Collections and Series

Provenance and original order are the principles upon which arrangement and description occur. But when it’s time to think about the actual work of arrangement, collections and series are vital concepts to understand.

Collections

We’ve been using the term “collection” throughout these courses. In archival work, a “collection” is a group of records that have the same creator (provenance) and are related to each other.

Here are some examples of collections:

  • Board of Trustees Minutes, 1956-1973
  • Sailing Association Records, 1934-1978
  • John Smith’s Personal Papers, 1824-1875
  • Canal Photographs, 1880-1900
  • Cemetery Financial Records, 1908-1956


definition

Collection. A collection is a group of records that have the same creator (provenance) and are related to each other.

 


 

Series

Some larger collections may consist of several “series.” A record series is a group of records that logically belongs together, are filed and maintained together, and are created to serve the same function. Let’s look again at two of the previous examples to see how collections and series work together.

Example icon

Board of Trustees Minutes, 1956-1973

This is a small collection that can be described as one unit. Minutes are a distinct type of record that logically belong together and serve the same function.

Sailing Association Records, 1934-1978

This collection consists of several series. They include 1) minutes, 2) membership rosters, 3) correspondence, and 4) photographs of events. If this collection is very small (a box or two) you would describe it just at the collection level, noting the parts into which it is divided. 

Sailing Association Records, 1934-1978.  These records consist of minutes, membership rosters, correspondence, and photographs.

But if it is a larger collection you would need to describe the collection as a whole, then explain each of the four parts.  That would look like this: 

Sailing Association Records (collection A)

Minutes (series 1)
Membership Rosters (series 2)
Correspondence (series 3)
Photographs of Events (series 4)

Generally, the more large and complex the records are, the more appropriate it is to break the collection into several series.

Now we will move on to look at the steps you should go through when arranging your records.


Definition icon

Record Series. A record series is a group of records that logically belong together, are filed and maintained together, and that serve the same function. 

Board of Trustee minutes
One Collection, One Series
Board of Trustees Minutes

Sailing Association records
One Collection, Four Series

Sailing Association Records

Sailling Association records
Four Collections--one for each series