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Archival Processing Documentation: Controlled Access

Guide for UB Special Collections covering accessions, processing, description, and care of collection material.
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2024 2:21 PM

Controlled access points are records for entities (persons, organizations, and other names), subjects or subject strings, and classifications that can be added to both resource and accession records.


General Usage Notes

ASpace fields: Agents: Creator, Source
EAD elements/attribute: <origination>, <repository>, <persname>, @relator
DACS 2.6


Start by determining who created the collection.  This piece of information is often contained in the unit title for the resource record. 

Check if there is an existing heading: In the Agents dropdown, browse for your name heading.  If you find the matching heading, select it and Link to Agents. If there is no record, create one using an authority record from a controlled vocabulary such as Library of Congress Name Authority Files or Union List of Artist Names
Role=Source, Relator=Repository

All collections must include a UB corporate name as source in addition to any creator or subject agents. See below for required agent headings.

Agent as Subject

ASpace field: Agents: Subject
EAD element/attribute: <persname>, @relator
DACS 2.6

To use an agent as a subject, link to the agent record as above but choose "subject" as the role. In the example below, this indicates that the collection is about Wright but does not consist of materials created by Wright.


Required Agent and Agent-as-Subject Headings

State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives

Required for all University Archives collections


State University of New York at Buffalo. Poetry Collection

Required for all Poetry Collection collections


Rare and Special Books

Required for all Rare and Special Books collections


Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection

Required for all History of Medicine collections


The following are required for relevant collections  |   Role=Subject

Athletics Memorabilia Collection

Campus Unrest at the University at Buffalo Collection (State University of New York at Buffalo)

Environmental Issues in Western New York Collection (State University of New York at Buffalo)

Jewish Buffalo Archives Project

Women’s History in Buffalo and Western New York Collection (State University of New York at Buffalo)



General Usage Notes

Subjects map to MARC 65X fields.  Remember, names as subjects are added agents with role set to subject.

Subjects should be derived from the Library of Congress Authority Files (lcnaf): Search for the appropriate term.  Check the authority record to confirm that the term is describing what you are looking for. 

Be as specific as possible when adding subject terms.  Use '+' to connect multiple terms to build a subject heading. 

Other ways to find appropriate subject headings:

Check the UB Library catalog for items related to the collection.

Search WorldCat to see what subject terms other institutions are using for similar collections.

Creating & Linking to Subject Records

EAD elements: <controlaccess>, <subject>

Topical subjects are the most commonly used subject terms in our finding aids. These map to MARC 650 fields.

To add subjects in the AS record:

  1. Click "Add Subject" under the "Subjects" section. 
  2. Begin typing your subject heading in the box to see if the heading already exists.  If it appears in the list, highlight the desired heading and click "Link." 
  3. If it does not appear in the list, you will need to create one. Click "Create Subject." 
  4. Type the term in the "Subject Term" box of the window that appears (e.g. Organized Crime). 
  5. From the "Type" pull-down menu, select "Topical Term."  If the term has a subdivision, click “Add Term/Subdivision” or “+” (e.g. New York (State), and in this example, the type is Geographic. 
  6. Choose "Library of Congress Subject Headings" as the source.  Because the subject heading was pulled from an authorized list, you may leave the "Scope Note" field blank. 
  7. Click "OK"; the subject heading will be automatically linked to your record.
Topical Subjects

EAD elements: <controlaccess>, <subject>

Subject analysis is a complex skill: Some topical LC subject headings can be subdivided by geographical term, chronological term, genre form, or another topical term; some cannot. The entry for that heading will indicate as such, but ArchivesSpace cannot control for correct formation of a subject string.

Further, some LC subject strings are preexisting; that is, the string has its own control number separate from the control number for the base heading.

For instance: Musicians--Argentina is a preexisting string with control number sh2010102942. The elements are "Musicians" as a 650 topical subject and "Argentina" as a geographical subject (subfield z): 150 __ |a Musicians |z Argentina. Note that this string has a different control number than the number for the base heading "Musicians," which is sh 85089027.

Some concepts and qualifiers are encompassed in the term and some are expressed using subdivisions:

Women teachers expresses the concept in a single term (rather than Teachers--Women), whereas materials pertaining to women's roles in World War II are classified under World War, 1939-1945--Women: 150 __ |a World War, 1939-1945 |x Women.

All to say, look carefully at the records for subject headings before adding them to ArchivesSpace.

Common subordinate components that you might add to topical subject terms for our collections include the following:

<term> -- New York (State) -- Buffalo

<term> -- Administration

<term> -- United States

<term> -- Photographs

<term> -- Pictorial Works

These may also be added to personal, corporate, and family names; however, in these instances the subject is created under the "Names" section (see above).  An example might be "State University of New York at Buffalo -- History."

Geographic Subjects

EAD elements: <controlaccess>, <geogname>

To add geographical subjects in the AS record, follow the directions above (Topical Terms); however, instead of selecting "Topical term" from the "Type" pull-down list, select "Geographic Name."  If you are unsure whether a term is a geographic name or a topical term, check the authority record.  Geographic names should be listed under the 151 field, while topical terms are listed under the 150 field.

Geographic names can also be used as subordinates of topical terms (see above).  When you find a geographic name, check the authority record.  The proper form for the subordinate is listed under the 781 field.  For instance, "Buffalo (N.Y.)" can serve as a primary subject heading, but you should use "New York (State) -- Buffalo" for a subordinate subject heading.

Common subordinate components that you might add to geographical names for our collections include the following:

<place> -- Pictorial works

<place> -- History

<place> -- Description and travel

Genre Forms

EAD elements: <controlaccess>, <genreform>

Genre terms describe the types of materials in the collection.  Because archival collections can contain a multitude of materials and formats, a list of genre terms could become quite extensive.  Every genre need not be listed.

Find Genre terms from the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus.

Once you find the term, you can click the hierarchy symbol ( ) next to the term to see a list of narrower terms (e.g. Bankbooks, Budgets).  If you cannot find an appropriate term in AAT, try searching the Library of Congress Authority Files.


University Archives uses classifications to indicate university record groups and sub-groups. These represent offices, divisions, departments, institutes, and other official units of the campus, and correspond to the first two parts of the collection number for institutional records.

Add links to both the group and sub-group:

Creating a New Agent Record

To create a new agent record, either click "Create" and then "Agent" from the main menu...

... and select the type of agent (person, corporate entity, etc.)...

... or click the drop down arrow from within the "Add Agent Link" area of a resource record.

A full or expanded record includes many fields, but required fields are in the Identity Information area.

If information is from a controlled vocabulary such as LCNAF, enter URI and name exactly as they appear. For Western names, "Name Order" is usually Indirect (name will be sorted by surname.)

Choose a Source and Rules from drop down menu. If heading has no controlled version, choose "Local Sources" as Source and "DACS" as Rules.

To link to an existing agent record, click the "Add Agent Link" button.

Select the role, i.e. "Creator," "Source" or "Subject."

Start typing in the "Agents" field to search for a record.

Existing records that match your search will display in a highlighted box.

Click on the record, and it will display in the "Agents" field.