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ARC Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A
Abolish Date: The date on which an organization was terminated, disbanded, inactivated, or superseded. The date may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate an uncertain or approximate date. If an organization's Abolish Date is unknown, this date will be "?".
Access Restrictions: Information about restrictions that may affect your access to the archival materials. Access to all or part of the archival materials may be restricted based on national security considerations, donor restrictions, court orders, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions, or other statutory or regulatory provisions. For more information, contact the reference unit identified in Location. Restrictions on use and reproduction are described in Use Restrictions.
Accession Number: A unique identifier assigned to a group of archival materials that has been transferred into the legal custody of NARA. This number can link the description of the archival materials with their acquisition/accession documentation. Unlike accession numbers used in museums that are commonly applied to individual items, NARA's accession numbers refer to large groups of records that may include one or more series or part of a series.
ARC Identifier: A unique number assigned to each archival description. You can use this number to identify or retrieve a description without reconstructing a search.
Administrative History Note: Information about the history of an organization, such as its creation, mission, program areas, staff members, administrative and operational hierarchy, relationships to other organizations, relationships with parent organizations, and predecessor or successor names. This information can help you understand the archival materials created by the organization.
Architectural and Engineering Drawings: The broad class of technical drawings that follow precise conventions or scale and projects and that are intended for construction or mechanical purposes, whether or not the project was executed. Examples of architectural and engineering drawings include records needed to plan and build static structures, such as buildings, bridges, and canals, as well as objects, such as weapons and machines. These may be in electronic form.
Archival Creator: See Creator
Archival Description: See Description
Archival Materials: Records, personal papers, and artifacts in any form or media created, received, or accumulated by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs, and preserved because of their continuing value.
Arrangement: The pattern or ordering sequence, such as alphabetical or chronological, of the archival materials. This information can help you physically locate particular archival materials within series and file units.
Artifacts: A two or three dimensional object largely defined by aesthetic value or value as an object rather than by informational value.
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B
Base: The substance of the media used to physically carry or hold the information in the archival item. Also called the substrate.
Biographical Note: Explanations or significant information about a person's life or activities. This information can help you distinguish between people with the same name and help you better understand the archival materials created by a person.
Broadcast Date: The date on which the item was first broadcast or another known broadcast date, if the first date is unknown. The date may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate an uncertain or approximate date. Further explanation of the date may appear in Date Note.
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Ca.: An abbreviation for the term "circa." Used if a date is approximate.
Circa: Abbreviated as "ca." Used if a date is approximate.
Collection: 1) An artificial accumulation of documents brought together on the basis of some characteristic (such as means of acquisition, creator, subject, language, media, form, name of collector) without regard to the provenance of the documents. 2) The whole of the documents, regardless of form or media, organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family, or organization in the conduct of personal or organizational activity.
Collection Identifier: A unique identifier assigned to a collection of archival materials.
Color: The absence or presence of colors, besides black, white and gray, on moving images and photographs and other graphic materials.
Container ID: An identifier or number for an individual container storing archival materials.
Container List: A list of the starting and ending titles of the contents of each container in which the archival materials are stored. This can help you decide which containers to request for viewing.
Contributors: Names of organizations or people, other than the archival creator, who are responsible for the intellectual, technical, artistic, or financial production of the archival materials, and the role the organizations or people played in creation of archival materials, such as producer, writer, or editor.
Copies: Information about the physical copies of the archival materials. Usually there is only one copy of paper textual records - the original set produced by the archival creator. Sometimes, particularly for audiovisual material, multiple copies may exist. A copy may have more than one type of media.
Copy Status: The role or purpose of each copy of the archival materials. The purposes are "preservation," "reference," "reproduction," or some combination of the three.
Copyright Date: The date on which the item was copyrighted. (A copyright date does not necessarily mean an item is still copyrighted). The date may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate an uncertain or approximate date. Further explanation of the dates may appear in Date Note.
Count: Usually the type and number of boxes housing the archival materials. For electronic records, this will be the number of logical data records; for artifacts, this will be the actual number of artifacts. This information, together with the information in Extent, can help you understand the quantity of the material.
Coverage Dates: The date range for the subject(s) contained in the archival materials. For example, a series created in the 1970s about the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor would have Coverage Dates of 1941 and Inclusive Dates of 1970-1979. The dates may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate uncertain or approximate dates. Further explanation of the dates may appear in Date Note.
Creator: The name of the person or organization responsible for the creation, accumulation, or maintenance of a series of archival materials when it was in working (primary) use. For people, the birth and death date (if applicable) will appear. For organizations, the Establish Date and Abolish Date (if applicable) will appear. People and organizations that contributed to the authorship of the series or its smaller parts, such as individual documents or reports, are called Contributors. Creators can be either Most Recent or Predecessor creators.
Custodial History Note: A description of the ownership history of the archival materials from the time of their creation to the time of their accessioning by NARA. This information may be particularly important for personal papers, donated materials, and Federal records that do not come to NARA through the regular government records transfer process. It can provide information on changes of ownership or breaks in the government chain-of-custody that is significant for the authenticity, integrity, and interpretation of the archival materials.
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Data Files: 1) A structured collection of data that is stored together and treated as a unit by a computer. 2) Related data (numeric, textual, or graphic information) and fields that are organized in a strictly prescribed form and format. Examples of data files include databases, spreadsheets, and email. Data files are not the same as textual documents recorded on electronic media.
Date Note: Provides more information about one or more of the dates in the description. This note might explain date spans for which there are a lot of archival materials (sometimes called "bulk dates") or point out gaps, or it might explain why there are multiple dates in the description.
Date Range: A range of two dates used to search on Inclusive Dates, Coverage Dates, Broadcast Date, Copyright Date, Production Date, or Release Date.
Description: 1) The process of analyzing, organizing, and recording information that serves to identify, manage, locate, and explain the holdings of archives and manuscript repositories and the contexts and record systems from which those holdings were selected; 2) the written representation or products of the above process. Archival materials are described hierarchically using different levels of description. The archival principles of provenance and original order call for the description of series of archival materials before describing at the file units or item level. Descriptions of series provide a unified overview of the archival materials to help you understand the context of the individual items that were filed within a given series of archival materials. Descriptions in this catalog are accurate representations of NARA's holdings nationwide, enabling you to find what you are looking for as independently as possible.
Digital Copies: NARA has made available digital copies of certain materials in its holdings. Copies are linked to their descriptions and are available in ARC. To search only for digital copies use the Digital Copies search.
Dimension: Gives the sizes of the media of the archival materials, such as 35mm, 16mm, or 3x5.
Disposition Authority Number: The unique identifier assigned to a group of archival materials indicating that their retention or destruction has been approved by NARA. This is also known as the schedule number. Like Accession Number, this number can link the description of the archival materials with their acquisition/accession documentation.
Donor: The name of an organization or person that has donated a collection of archival materials.
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E
Edit Status: The identification of the production or pre-production stage of audiovisual materials (moving images or sound recordings). Indicates whether the audiovisual materials are edited, partially edited, or unedited productions.
Emulsion: The type of coating that is bonded to and supported by the base of the media of the archival materials.
Establish Date: The date on which an organization was established. The date may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate an uncertain or approximate date.
Extent: The measurement or amount of the archival materials themselves -- the linear measurement, page count, number of rolls, reels, cassettes, or number of data files that make up the particular copy of the materials. This information, together with the information in Count, can help you understand the quantity of material.
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File Unit: An organized unit of documents grouped together either for current use or in the process of archival arrangement. A file unit is the intellectual grouping of the archival materials, that may or may not equal the physical grouping. For example, a case file may be housed in several physical folders, but described as one file unit.
Finding Aid(s): Tools that help you find information in archival materials. There are many different types of finding aids including published or unpublished inventories, container and folder lists, card catalogs, calendars, indexes, registers, databases, or institutional guides. Finding aids can be formal publications or accessioned archival materials.
Former Collection: The collection(s) to which the archival materials were previously allocated. This may be helpful in locating archival materials by their former collection citations, which may be found in out-of-date finding aids.
Former Record Group: The record group(s) to which the archival materials were previously allocated. This may be helpful in locating archival materials by their former record group citations, which may be found in out-of-date finding aids, such as earlier versions of the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States.
Function and Use: A description of the activities that resulted in the creation of the archival materials. This information explains why the archival materials were created.
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General Note: Significant information not captured in any other field.
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Hierarchy: The principle of archival description in which materials are described at various levels ranging from the largest grouping (record group or collection) to the intermediate levels (series and file unit) to the smallest unit (item). NARA archivists describe from the general to the specific; provide information relevant to the level of description; link each description to its next higher unit of description; and, at the highest appropriate level, give information that is common to the component parts.
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Includes: Information about the hierarchy of the archival materials. For record groups and collections, this field provides a link to all the series that are part of the record group or collection and have been described in ARC. For series, this provides a link to all the file units or items that are part of the series and have been described in ARC. For file units, this provides a link to all the items that are part of the file unit and have been described in ARC.
Inclusive Dates: The date range during which the record group, collection, or series was created, maintained, or accumulated by its creator. The dates may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate uncertain or approximate dates. Further explanation of the dates may appear in Date Note.
Index Terms: Uniform searchable terms used to describe the topics, people, organizations, specific records types, and geographic areas that are the subject of or contributed in some way to the archival materials.
Internal Transfer Number: The unique identifier assigned to a group of archival materials when they have been transferred within NARA. If more information is available, you will find it in Transfer Note.
Item: The smallest intellectually indivisible archival unit (e.g. a letter, memorandum, report, leaflet, or photograph).
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Jurisdiction: The geographic areas over which an organization had an administrative responsibility or about which it collected information.
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Language: If all or parts of the archival materials are not in English, this field will identify their language(s). This information can prevent you from requesting materials that you will be unable to use or can help you determine whether a translation might be needed.
Level of Description: Materials are described according to their position within the archival hierarchy. The materials are first described as groups, and depending on available resources and access needs, also described down to the item. The two highest levels are record group and collection. Record groups and collections contain series. Series contain file units and/or items, and file units contain items.
Lifecycle Tracking Information: Information relating to the archival materials in earlier portions of their lifecycle. For records, the stages of the lifecycle include creation or receipt, maintenance, scheduling and appraisal, transfer to records center or archives, destruction or archival processing, preservation, and continuing use. This information can link the description of the archival materials with documentation created when they were still in active use in their creating organizations.
Local Identifier: Local identifiers created by local NARA units to identify particular archival materials. The local identifier may be used to capture the "series entry number" or "entry number" used in the NARA Regional Offices to identify series. The local identifier might not be unique. Different units may use the same local identifier for different archival materials.
Location: The NARA unit that provides reference services for the archival materials.
Logical Data Record: A set of data processed as a unit by a computer system or application independently of its physical environment. Examples include a word processing document, a spreadsheet, an email message, each row in each table of a relational database, each row in an independent logical file database.
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M
Maps and Charts: Graphic representations, drawn to scale, of selected features of the surface and atmosphere of the earth and of other planets and planetary satellites. Examples include hydrographic/nautical charts, weather charts, aeronautical charts, photomaps, orthophotomaps, atlases, cartograms, globes, and relief models. These may be in electronic form.
Media: Information about the physical material on which the information constituting the archival materials resides, including the media type, dimensions of the media, the process used to create it, and any physical or technical restrictions.
Media Type: The type or types of media that the archival materials are on, such as bound volume, film reel, or photographic print.
Microform Publication Available: Microform publications are reproductions of archival materials that are made available in research rooms for consultation and sometimes marketed and sold. If a microform publication is available, this field may have a number such as "M804" (the Microform Publication Identifier) and a title. There may be additional information that describes the relationship between the archival materials and the microform publication.
MLR Number: The finding aid designator (prefix and suffix) and the entry number (prefix and suffix) that together uniquely identify an entry in the Master Location Register (MLR) database, such as "A1 1077B.".
Most Recent: Indicates that the creator is the one last responsible for the archival materials' creation, accumulation, or maintenance. If the creator was the one first or previously responsible for the creation, accumulation, or maintenance of the archival materials, this type would be Predecessor.
Moving Images: A sequence of images that presents the illusion of motion or movement as they are advanced. Examples include motion pictures, videos, and other theatrical releases, shorts, news footage (including television newscasts and theatrical newsreels), trailers, outtakes, screen tests, training films, educational material, commercials, spot announcements, home movies, amateur footage, television broadcasts, and unedited footage. These may be in electronic form.
My List This is a temporary list of search results that you can create as you perform searches and find results of interest. Once added to the list, search results can be emailed, printed, or saved.
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Name: The preferred form of a person's name, usually the name by which the person is most commonly known. The preferred name is based on the Anglo American Cataloging Rules, 2nd Edition. The preferred name may include surname, forename, family name, birth and death dates, letters, initials, abbreviations, phrases, or numbers used in place of a name, or some combination of those elements. You can find other names by which the person is known, including nicknames, pen names, or transliterations in Variant Names.
Numbering Note: The explanation of an agency or NARA-assigned numbering scheme. May also include instructions for how you should cite a specific sequence, format, or content of the numbering scheme when requesting the archival materials.
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Organization: Organizations include meetings, conferences, commissions, production groups, and Federal agencies. Organizations may be creators, donors, or contributors to the authorship of archival materials; organizations may also be the subject of the archival materials.
Organization Name: The official designation of an organization. In ARC, the name of a Federal organization consists of a full administrative hierarchy. The names of different parts of the hierarchy are separated with a period. If a level is known to have existed, but its name is unknown, the unknown level is identified by a "~". Names of state governments, non-profit organizations, private corporate bodies, or international organizations for which NARA has accessioned records are formed according to the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd Edition.

When conducting an Organizations search, you may see both preferred forms and variant forms of an organization's name. A USE notation is provided to point from a variant organization name to its preferred form. It is the preferred form of the name that appears in the creator, donor, contributor, or subject field in archival descriptions.
Original Order: The archival principle that archival materials should be maintained in the order in which they were placed by the organization or individual that created them.
Other Title: Additional or variant titles, such as titles that were translated into English, formal titles that have been changed or corrected, agency-supplied titles, or informal titles.
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Part of: Information about the hierarchy of the archival materials. For series, this provides a link to the record group or collection to which the series belongs. For file units, this provides a link to the series to which the file unit belongs. For items, this provides a link to the series or file unit to which the item belongs.
Person: People may be creators, donors, or contributors to the authorship of archival materials; people may also be the subject of the archival materials.
Person Name: The name by which an individual is most commonly known. This may be the person's real name, a pseudonym, nickname, or even initials. In ARC, the name of a person is usually in inverted order: last name, first name, and middle name/initial. A comma separates the last and first names. The name may include further pieces of information such as birth and death dates, a fuller form of the name, and/or a personal title. NARA forms person names according to the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd Edition.

When conducting a People search, you may see both preferred forms and variant forms of a person's name. A USE notation is provided to point from a variant person name to its preferred form. It is the preferred form of the name that appears in the creator, donor, contributor, or subject field in archival descriptions.
Personal Papers: The private documents accumulated by or belonging to a person or a family.
Photographs and other Graphic Materials: Two-dimensional pictorial representations intended to be viewed, without motion, either by the naked eye or by means of an optical device, such as transparencies, negatives, or slides. Examples include photographs (positive or negative, opaque or transparent), prints, posters, and original art. These may be in electronic form.
Physical Restriction Note: Information regarding any physical restrictions that apply to a particular copy of the archival materials. These are usually restrictions related to preservation. Fragile archival materials may not be available for viewing or steps may have to be taken before they may be retrieved for viewing.
Piece Count: The exact number of physical items comprising the media of a particular copy of the archival materials, as opposed to the number required for reproduction (the Reproduction Count). For example, a double-sided letter may have a piece count of three pages but a reproduction count of six pages.
Predecessor: 1) In the organization description, the name of the organization that previously had the mission or program areas of a successor organization; 2) In the archival materials description, indicates that the creator is the one first or previously responsible for the archival materials' creation, accumulation, or maintenance. If the creator was the one last responsible for the creation, accumulation, or maintenance of the archival materials, this type would be Most Recent.
Preservation: A term used as a Copy Status to indicate that the purpose of the copy of the archival materials is only to stabilize and protect the records against damage or deterioration. If "Preservation" is the only term in the Copy Status field, you may not be able to view that particular copy. For more information, contact the reference unit identified in Location.
Process: Identifies the process used to create the media of the archival materials.
Production Date: The date on which an item was produced or created. The date may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate an uncertain or approximate date. Further explanation of the dates may appear in Date Note.
Production Series: The title, subtitle, and/or numeric identifier of a production series to which an audiovisual item belongs. The word "series" is used in a non-archival sense: it specifically refers to motion pictures, sound recordings, or videotapes produced as a series, such as a television series or movie serials.
Program Area: The function or program area of the organization. Indicates the principal missions or areas of activity of the organization.
Provenance: 1) The principle that archival materials of the same provenance must not be intermingled with those of any other provenance; frequently referred to as respect des fonds; 2) the organization or individual that created, accumulated, and/or maintained the archival materials in the conduct of business prior to their transfer to a records center, archives, or manuscript repository.
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Record: All books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of data in them.
Recording Speed: The speed at which audio recordings are recorded or reproduced. For audio tapes, the measurement is inches per second (ips). For audio discs or cylinders, the measurement is revolutions per minute (rpm). Provides information necessary for playback.
Record Group: A grouping created by NARA that comprises the records of a large organization, such as a Government bureau or independent agency.
Record Group Number: A unique number assigned to each record group.
Records Center Accession Number: See Records Center Transfer Number.
Records Center Transfer Number: The unique identifier assigned to a group of archival materials that have been transferred into the physical custody of a records center. Also known as the Records Center Accession Number.
Reel/Tape/Disc Number: The number assigned to an individual reel, tape, or disc. Indicates the sequence of the reel, tape, or disc in relation to other reels, tapes, or discs in the physical occurrence. Can also indicate that two media occurrences (such as a soundtrack and an image roll) together make one complete reel.
Reference: A term used as a Copy Status to indicate that the copy of the archival materials is intended for use by both NARA staff and researchers.
Reference Unit: See Location.
Release Date: The date on which an audiovisual item was first released for distribution. The date may be qualified by a question mark or "ca." to indicate an uncertain or approximate date. Further explanation of the dates may appear in Date Note.
Reproduction: A term used as a Copy Status to indicate that the purpose of the copy of the archival materials is to create copies of the archival materials. For more information, contact the reference unit identified in Location.
Reproduction Count: The exact number of parts or sides of the physical items needed to create a complete duplicate of the specific media of the archival materials, as opposed to the exact number of physical items comprising the media (the Piece Count). For example, a double-sided letter may have a piece count of three pages but a reproduction count of six pages.
RG: See Record Group.
Role: A description of the relationship between an organization or individual and the archival materials. Some possible roles are creator, contributor, donor, or subject.
Roll: Indication of the roll used in a motion picture. In creating a film, alternate scenes are typically assembled in checkerboard fashion on two or more different rolls with black leaders between scenes to facilitate fades and dissolves and to ultimately produce a single strip master positive from which a duplicating negative can then be made. Identifies roll to aid in reproduction.
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Scale Note: The level of detail in cartographic or architectural documents expressed as numerical ratio to one, which may have been computed from the verbal or bar scales included on the materials. A map at the scale of 1:10,000 (one unit on the map equals 10,000 of the same units on the ground) would generally be considered a large scale or detailed map, such as a city plan; whereas a map at the scale of 1:10,000,000 (one unit on the map equals 10,000,000 of the same units on the ground) would generally be considered a small scale or limited detail map, such as a small continent on a single sheet. This information may allow maps, scaled drawings, and aerial photographs to be compared in terms of the detail of the documents.
Scope and Content Note: A narrative description summarizing what the archival materials are (their scope) and what kinds of information they contain (their content).
Security Classification: The highest level of national security protections on the archival materials. For more information, contact the NARA reference unit identified in Location.
Series: File units or items arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they result from the same accumulation or filing process, the same function, or the same activity; have a particular form; or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use.
Shot List: A shot-by-shot description of a motion picture or video recording.
Sound Recordings: Digital or analog recordings for audio purposes only. Examples include radio broadcasts, public service or advertising spot announcements, recordings of meetings, oral histories, and speeches.
Sound Type: The identification of the sound characteristics (absence or presence of sound) of a motion picture or video recording.
Soundtrack Configuration: The recording configuration of a sound recording or motion picture soundtrack. Provides information useful for playback requirements.
Soundtrack Language: The language of the soundtrack for a motion picture or video recording. Indicates the language of the specific media type of the audiovisual item.
Specific Records Type: The intellectual format of the archival materials, such as letter, memo, greeting card or portrait. This is not the same as the Media Type, such as photographic print or digital audio tape, which conveys information about the physical format.
Staff Member: The names of individuals who are significantly associated with the organization.
Subjects: Uniform searchable terms used to describe the topics, people, organizations, and geographic areas represented in the archival materials.
Successor: The name of the organization that assumed the mission or program areas of a predecessor organization.
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Technical Access Requirement Note: Information about any special equipment you will need to use the archival materials, such as a light table to view aerial film or hardware and software to view archival materials on electronic media.
Textual Records: The term usually applied to manuscript and typescript records. Examples include minutes of meetings, organizational charts, diaries, calendars, correspondence, reports, briefing books, legal opinions, directives, and publications. Textual records may be in electronic form, as in the case of some email records or word processing documents.
Title: The name assigned to the archival materials. At the record group, collection, and series level, the title is almost always created by NARA. At the file unit level, the title is usually supplied by the creator; NARA-assigned titles may be indicated by brackets, or may appear in the Other Title field. At the item level, a title can be a formal ("published") title, an agency-supplied title, or a NARA-created title.
Topics: Uniform searchable terms used to describe the subjects represented in the archival materials.
Total Footage: The length in feet of all the reels or rolls that make up the entire copy of a motion picture film.
Total Running Time: The total duration of a motion picture film, video recording, or sound recording. If the total running time is more than five minutes, this number will be rounded off to the nearest minute. If the total running time is less than five minutes, it will be indicated as minutes and seconds.
Transfer Note: Provides information about the internal transfer of archival materials from one NARA unit to another. Provides explanatory information relating to the Internal Transfer Number.
Type: See Type of Archival Materials.
Type of Archival Materials: The general form of the archival materials. Currently this may be Architectural and Engineering Drawings, Artifacts, Data Files, Maps and Charts, Moving Images, photographs and other graphic materials, Sound Recordings, or Textual Records.
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Use Restrictions: Information about restrictions that may affect your ability to reproduce or otherwise use the archival materials, such as copyright restrictions or donor restrictions. For more information, contact the reference unit identified in Location. Restrictions on access (whether or not you can see the archival materials) are described in Access Restrictions.
User Session: A session of activity that you spend searching and viewing descriptions in ARC. The user session begins when you access ARC and ends when you close your browser or when you do not interact with ARC for 30 minutes. ARC requires the use of "Session Cookies" to maintain your search session. Cookies are not used to do anything other than maintain your session while in ARC.
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Variant Control Number: A number or identifier assigned to the archival materials either by the creator or by NARA. Each variant control number will be identified by type and may have a note providing more information.
Variant Names: For organizations, familiar or commonly used names (including acronyms) that are not the organization's official name. For people, names by which the person may be known (including nicknames, pen names, or transliterations) that are different from the person's preferred name.
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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