Skip to Main Content

Processing and Description: Accession Records

Guide for UB Special Collections covering accessions, processing, description, and care of collection material.
Last Updated: Jun 5, 2023 11:19 AM

Adding Accessions in ArchivesSpace

See below for guidance in assigning accession numbers.

Title <unittitle> Yes

Title for the unit being described (i.e. collection, series, item) in two segments: Name unit + type of material

Supply a name unit for the collection (creator, collector, or subject). 

The proper form of this name is derived from the preferred name used in the collection.

Note: The name unit of the title is always capitalized.

Second part represents the types of materials being described. 

If the collection contains one or two types of items (e.g. correspondence and promotional materials), list those in the title. 

Consult AAT for the proper genre term. 

If the collection contains three or more types of materials, use the term papers, records, or collection:

  • 'papers' describes collections from individuals;
  • 'records' describes collections from corporate bodies or organizations;
  • 'collections' describes collections that were “intentionally assembled” (sometimes called “artificial collections”). 

Note: The material type unit of the title is always written in lowercase.

When the subject of the collection is a person, and if no name has been recorded because the repository is the collector, express the title of the collection in a way that indicates that the subject is not the collector. If one or two items dominate a collection, but are not the only types of materials present, try to reflect that in the title

Name unit:

Will Burtin

College of Liberal Arts

James and Ruth McCrea

Amateur newspapers

Complete title:

Charles D. Abbott papers

Amateur newspapers collection

Alumni Association records

“Artificial” collection title:

Collection on Sam Abrams

Collection on Royal B. Farnum

James and Ruth McCrea collection on Paul Standard

Collection with one type of material dominant:

Blazing New Trails drawings and other material

DACS 2.3

AAT genre terms
Identifier <unitid> Yes

The resource identifier is the accession number.  If no accession number can be identified, use the collection number and explain under “Provenance.”

*See below for guidance in assigning accession numbers.

UA: Constructed in 2 parts: year and number of accession (use 3 digits).

Poetry: Constructed in 3 parts: year, repository abbreviation, and number of accession (use 4 digits).

BORN DIGITAL: Use "BD" suffix

UA: 2015-005

PC: 2015-pcms-0001

BD: 2015-005-BD

PC: 2015-pcms-0001-BD

*Each part of the identifier is entered in its own box, WITHOUT dashes.  AS will render with punctuation.



Accession Date   Yes The date the collection was acquired or transferred to the repository.  Use yyyy-mm-dd.  If no accession date can be identified, use the date you are constructing the record and explain under “Provenance.”



Content Description <scopecontent> Yes Brief description of the materials.    
Condition Description <physdesc> Optional List an conservation issues, dimensions, A/V materials, etc.    



  Optional Major separations or re-assignments from collection upon accession. 3 books removed from collection and added to Rare Books: [list titles].  
Inventory   Yes Arrangement, box list, survey, or link to an external inventory document.  This can be a lengthy inventory or a brief statement as the arrangement of materials.

Box list at Y:\ArchDev\FA MS\MS 1-10\MS01.doc

Collection is roughly arranged in 3 series: correspondence, research, and photos.

Box 1 Correspondence, 1900-1950

Box 2 Photographs, 1910-1950

Box 3 etc.
Provenance   Yes

Note how the collections was accessioned, and from whom.

If accession record has an imposed identifier and date (because accession is unknown), state so here.

The Thomas D. Perry papers, 1957-1982, were given to the University Archives by his wife, Patricia Perry, in two accessions: #82-081 was received October 5, 1982, and accession #85-037 was received May 3, 1985.


Date of accession for the Thomas D. Perry papers is unknown.
Retention Rule   Not in Use      
General Note   Optional Record information here that does not have an allocated field.     
General Note   Optional If a Collection Impact Statement is provided (see below), the text should be included here and labeled as such.    
Acquisition Type   Yes Select the appropriate Type from the pull-down list.     
Resource Type   Yes Select the appropriate Level from the pull-down list.  Refer to your title for the type of material being described (papers, collection, records, etc.).    
Publish   Not in Use This should NEVER be checked.    
Access Restrictions   Yes Check this box if there any restricted or closed materials in the collection.  If this box is checked, describe the nature of the restriction in Access Restriction Note.    
Access Restriction Note   Yes

If restricted material is known, list location (box #), clearly mark material as such, and include restriction on any existing inventory.  Use UA Restricted Records Policy and applicable timetables to explain the nature of the restriction.  Include restrictions and restriction start/end dates in Rights Statements.

Please note: This field does not self-populate in a resource record that is spawned from an accession record. This information must be entered manually in a Terms of Access and Use note.

Collection has been assessed by archivist for restricted material.

No restricted material assessment has been made.

Donor has [has not] declared restricted material is [is not] present.

Box 3 Tenure records, 1970-1972 (5 folders), are closed until 75 years after the date of creation according to University access policies.

Restricted for 20 years from the date of accession into the University Archives, according to University access policies.  Files may be accessed prior to that time only if the office of origin consents to disclosure.
Use Restrictions   Optional      
Use Restrictions Note   Optional      
Dates See “Dates” in Resource Records        
Extent See “Extent” in Resource Records        
Agents See “Agents” in Resource Records        
Subjects See “Subjects” in Resource Records        
Related Resources   Yes

Link any existing related finding aids.

Link the related finding aid to this collection AFTER processing.
Related Accessions   Optional Use if multiple accessions exist for a discrete collection.    
External Documents   Yes Links to appraisals, correspondence pertaining to accession, deeds, online permissions, etc.  Contract files (appraisal, deed of gift, online permission, copyright) should also be stored in the IR.    
Rights Statements   Yes

Rights type = Other

Other Rights Basis = Policy (if institutional policy applies) or Donor (if donor applied restriction in deed of gift)

Include restriction start and end dates.


Use for statement of copyright, retention by donor or transferred to repository.
Instances See "Top Containers" and "Adding an Inventory" Generally not used for accessions      
Deaccessions   No      
Collection Management   Yes At minimum, set Priority, Rights Determined, Processing Plan, Processors, and Processing Status.    
Classifications   Yes For UA Institutional Records, use the appropriate RG for collection as defined by the Archivist.    
User Defined   Not in Use      


Collection Impact Statements

For manuscript collections (not institutional records), the curators and University Archivist will write a statement on the significance of the acquisition to the collection (i.e. the Poetry Collection or the University Archives) and how acquisition of the material fits into the Collections Development plan. This should include information about related materials and may address impact on storage and staffing requirements, support opportunities (financial or in-kind support from acquisition source, foundation or grant), and/or ppportunities for publication / digitization.


Determining New Accession Number

Browse accessions in ArchivesSpace.

Limit search to the year in which the accession is being added.
Sort accessions by identifier, descending.
This should display the most recent assigned number.
Once you've determined what the number should be, check that it hasn't been used by searching.
If your search returns no accessions with that number, you may assign it.