Terms used in the archive catalogue:


Short for reference number. Each entry on the archive catalogue has a unique reference number (e.g. GB 3184 TD/4/6). You will need this number if you wish to consult or cite a document.

Box Number

Some items and files have a box number field which refers to the box or location of the material. Where there is a box number this should be used to request material.


The name of the catalogue entry e.g. Photolithography: a beginner's guide.


The date(s) of creation of the archive material. Useful for restricting your searches to a specific time period.


Archives are arranged hierarchically and the level of arrangement describes where a particular search result fits in the hierarchy of the collection. Each entry will include one of the following terms:

  • Fonds - this is the highest level of description, which represents an entire archive collection, for example the records created or received by an organisation or individual
  • Subfonds – This is a division of a fonds still based on the creating body. Often used for different departments within an organisation’s archive.
  • Series, Sub-series - these are the levels where, for example, runs of minutes, series of files etc are described. These are often described by the function of the records within the series.
  • File – Often the lowest level in an archive catalogue the file can relate to an actual file of documents or a small logical grouping of items.
  • Item - this usually represents the lowest level of description of material in a collection and is used for describing, for example, an individual minute book, diary, photograph album, or letter. This is usually the level at which documents can be requested for research.

Extent - Information about the quantity of material which is being described (e.g. 2 boxes, 1 volume, 14 files).

Term - Any subject terms, taken from the UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT) used to describe the catalogue record.

SystemOfArrangement - Information about the ordering of records e.g. an alphabetical or chronological arrangement or an explanation of a system of classification.

AccessConditions - Details of any access restrictions on the material.

Image - An image of the document (or a document from the file or collection, or a photograph of the individual associated with the record).

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