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Cowles Library


University Records Management - University Archives and Special Collections,Cowles Library: Glossary

Resources and important information regarding non-current University records of historical value.

Some Commonly-Used Archival Terms

Disposition:   Materials’ final destruction or transfer to an archives as determined by their appraisal.   See also: Retention.

Historical value:   The importance or usefulness of records that justifies their continued preservation because of the enduring administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential information they contain.

Non-current records:   Inactive records; records no longer used in the day-to-day course of business, but which are preserved                                                       and occasionally used for legal, historical or operational purposes. 

Record series:   A group of similar records that are arranged according to a filing system and that are related as the result of being created, received, or used in the same activity.  

Restrictions:   Limitations on access to or use of materials.   This may be defined by a period of time or by a class of individual allowed or denied access. 

Retention:  The length of time records should be kept in a certain location or form for administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or other purposes. 

Retention Schedule:   A document that identifies and describes an organization’s records, usually by series, and provides instructions for the disposition of records throughout their life cycle.

Sensitive informationPersonal or confidential information that should be protected from public scrutiny; information that may be sensitive because of legal, financial, or personal considerations; that may be potentially embarrassing and that individuals may expect to be kept private.

Transfer Agreement:  Document describing the process of moving records as part of their scheduled disposition, especially from office to a records center, or from a records center to an archives. 

Vital records:  Emergency operation records immediately necessary to begin recovery of business after a disaster.

University Archives Associate

Katherine Lincoln's picture
Katherine Lincoln
Drake University Archives and Special Collections, Cowles Library