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Archival Processing Documentation: Containers

Guide for UB Special Collections covering accessions, processing, description, and care of collection material.
Last Updated: Jun 6, 2024 4:13 PM

Overview
Note: This guide is for container instances, which differ from digital object instances and instantiation generally.

A container instance in ArchivesSpace tells the user where an item or group of items is located. Often, an instance consists of more than one part, i.e. box 6, folder 2.

A top container is the highest container in the hierarchy; for the most part, this will be a carton or manuscript box, but it may also be a map case drawer. A top container is assigned a unique ID and barcode. Folders can be top containers if the entire collection is housed in a folder.

Instances must be assigned at the collection level and may be assigned within the component. For example, if a series, i.e. Correspondence, is described at the series level with no folder-level description, instances will be assigned to the series. If there is folder-level description, i.e. Letters from students, instances are assigned at that level.

Each top container must be assigned a container profile. This describes the type and size of the container. You can search by keyword, i.e. “legal” for a legal size manuscript box. Select the profile, choose container type from the drop down (in this case “box”), and assign the appropriate number. ArchivesSpace will not recognize if you accidentally create a duplicate “Box 6,” for example, so be sure you are assigning the correct number.

Click “create and link to top container.” You can then add folders if necessary, and repeat until you’ve assigned all of the instances for the component you are describing.

This separation of parent/child for box and folder replaces the “box-folder” designation used in older EAD finding aids. For example, box-folder 2.5 would be separated out into Box 2, Folder 5.

Display of instance/top container information on public user interface:

Multiple discrete collections—or portions of collections—may share a top container.  Most often, this is the case for map case drawers, single enclosure manuscript collections, and oversize materials.

Collection Type

Container Type

Accession Order

Find Existing TC Identifier

Multiple discrete collections stored in a shared manuscript box with consecutive accession numbers (ex. MS 248, MS 249, MS 250).

Mainly for collections consisting of 1 enclosure.

Manuscript box

Yes No. Used when processing several small collections of consecutive accessions.

1, 2, etc. representing order in box across collections

Example: Barcode 39072038465021

Multiple partial collections stored in a shared manuscript box (i.e. folders from multiple collections in one box)

 

Mainly for collections consisting of 1 enclosure.

Manuscript box

N/A Yes

UAMS 1, 2, 3...

Example: Barcode 39072039447481

Multiple discrete OR partial collections stored in a shared oversize box.

Mainly to store efficiently by size across collections.

Oversize box N/A Yes

UAOS 1, 2, 3...

Multiple discrete OR partial collections stored in a shared map drawer.

Mainly to store efficiently by size across collections.

Map case drawer N/A Yes. Search or scan barcode for map case drawer Child = Folder
Child Indicator = 1, 2, 3...IN COLLECTION