CRS Manual - Item dates

Item contents date range

Definition

The item contents date range is the dates of creation of the record material in the item. Documents accumulated within the item may have been recorded by predecessors and successors to the agency that registered the item as a whole. For example, a file raised in 1980 may contain documents top-numbered from 1950 as well as record material added in 1995.

Purpose

In the Item Contents Date Range field, the Archives seeks to identify the earliest and latest action recorded within the item. Precise dates and times may be evident on the records themselves and may be integral to the original recordkeeping process, and can be recorded in accordance with the standards for content below.

Relative importance

This is a mandatory field (category 1).

Sources of information

The date range can be determined from recordkeeping systems or examination of items.

Standards for content

The date range consists of four possible attributes: start date, and end date plus qualifiers if required. The contents start date should be the date of the earliest record material within the item and the contents end date should be the date of the latest record material.

Give the start and end dates in the form:

Two qualifiers - c (circa) and by - can be used to show that the date range information is uncertain or unreliable.

Amendments

It is unlikely that the contents date range would need amending, once having been applied. An incorrect initial decision would  normally be  the reason for amendment. Very occasionally, folios may be added after capture  into Recordsearch, which may warrant amendment. 

Application notes

The contents date range must refer to the actual period when the documents were created. Dates of registry or other purely administrative actions, for example put away directions, requests for file, the dates that a file was raised and closed, are not included in the date range unless they are the only indication of the date of the contents. See 'Item accumulation start date' for details about how to document dates which reflect when a file was raised.

Also, the contents date range should not include the publication dates of printed material included in the item for reference, for example copies of Acts, transcripts from Hansard, or published reports. These can be included in the descriptive note, where necessary. Annotations on such material which constitute record action, however, should be considered when determining the contents date range.

Dates of copied material within an item generally fall within the recorded action dates of the item. Where they do not, the date that is chosen should be the date of incorporation of the copy as part of the record material, not the date that is on the material that has been copied, nor the date the copy was made. Note that the date of incorporation of the copy as part of the record item is not necessarily the same as the date the copy was made. Dates which indicate the date of the original from which a copy was made, or the date that the copy was made (if different from when it was incorporated into record material) may be included in the descriptive note, where appropriate.

Where an item is entirely made up of copied material, with no indication of registry or administrative action, and no indication as to when the copies were made or incorporated into the item, try to obtain approximate dates from the context of the item and any circumstantial evidence available.

Include a reference to the period to which the records relate (see examples below) in the descriptive note where this period significantly differs from the date range of the item contents and where it would clarify the nature of the matters covered by the item.

In archival description, there are generally five kinds of date ranges that are relevant for documenting a unit of description. In relation to items, these are:

The following examples illustrate the different ways of defining date ranges for an item. As can be seen, the dates do not coincide in all situations, and in many cases give wildly differing data. The variations can be fully explained in the Item Descriptive Note.

The difference between the contents date range and the subject matter dates can also be illustrated by considering four scenarios relating to a file containing one letter, dated 1967, written from one office to another which involves an older document, dated 1945.

In the first scenario the 1945 document is quoted within the later record. In the second scenario a copy of the 1945 document is attached to the later record. In the third case the original of the 1945 document is attached to the later record. In the fourth case...

Scenario 1: A 1945 document  is quoted in a letter dated 1967 in a file created 1967 

Accumulation start date: 1967

Contents date: 1967

Dates of subject matter: 1945-1967

Scenario 2: A copy of a 1945 document is attached to a file created in 1967

Accumulation start date: 1967

Contents date: 1967

Dates of subject matter: 1945-1967

Note that the date the copy was made is not relevant here the date of its incorporation as part of the record material is the date that is significant. 

Scenario 3: A 1945 document is attached to a file created in 1967

Accumulation start date: 1967

Contents date range: 1945-1967

Dates of subject matter: 1945-1967

Scenario 4: A copy of a 1945 document was annotated in 1965 and then attached to a file created in 1967

Accumulation start date: 1967

Contents date range: 1965-1967

Dates of subject matter: 1945-1967

 

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.1.3

Accumulation start date

Definition

The accumulation start date is the date when an item was registered in the series of which it is currently a part. In traditional filing systems, the register that allocated the next file number in the sequence or recorded a name under a particular letter of the alphabet contained the date of registration or accumulation start date. Thus the accumulation start date normally coincided with the date the first folio was placed on the file (often the file request form). In electronic recordkeeping systems, a date is allocated on creation of a file or container in the recordkeeping system and given a control symbol relevant to the series to which it belongs. An individual document may be created before it is formally captured or saved into the recordkeeping system (such as a draft on a desktop) or placed on file. A file or item which comprises more than one document or folio does not formally exist in the recordkeeping system before it is registered and given a unique identifier. The item accumulation start date cannot be earlier than the series accumulation start date or later than the series accumulation end date. However, the contents date range of the item may well differ to that of the accumulation start date.

'Accumulation start date' therefore does not mean the physical placement of a folio on a file and noting the date the first folio was placed on the file and the date the last folio was placed on the file, which may continue past the end of the series. It is likely that the contents end date could well be similar to the date on which the last folio was placed on file; however, this cannot always be known, and is not as critical as knowing when the item was formally incorporated into the agency's recordkeeping system and therefore part of the evidence of transactions of that agency.

Purpose

The purpose of accumulation start date is to describe the date on which the item was formally incorporated into the series into which it belongs. This normally occurs through capture into the agency's recordkeeping system by automatic assignation against appropriate recordkeeping metadata or through documentation in registers by agency personnel. The physical item may also contain evidence of date of accumulation into a recordkeeping system

Relative importance

This field is mandatory for item descriptions transferred electronically from agency recordkeeping systems (category 1).

It is essential where known for items captured manually by Archives' staff 
(category 2).

Sources of information

The date can be determined from agency recordkeeping systems and examination of records.

Standards for content

The accumulation start date range consists of one attribute of start date, plus qualifiers if required. The accumulation start date is the date the item was formally registered or captured into the recordkeeping system of the agency recording the series.

Give the start and end dates in the form:

Two qualifiers - c (circa) and by - can be used to show that the date range information is uncertain or unreliable.

Amendments

If captured in an electronic recordkeeping system it is unlikely that this date will be changed. Examination of items through normal archival processes may reveal the item accumulation start date and so add it to items hitherto without one.

Application notes

In archival description there are generally five kinds of date ranges distinguishable that are relevant to document a unit of description. In relation to items, these are:

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.2.2

Item registration date

Definition

The item registration date is the date on which the description of an item was captured into the archival control system of the Archives, RecordSearch. 

Purpose

The purpose of this field is to record the date on which the description of an item was captured into RecordSearch. The information could have been entered manually or lodged electronically from agency recordkeeping systems. The date is used for reference purposes and management purposes. It cannot be amended once saved against the item description

Relative importance

This is a mandatory field (category 1).

Sources of information

The date is allocated by RecordSearch on saving of the registration form.

Standards for content

The date displays in the form DD Mon YYYY, or as 23 Feb 1999.

Amendments

This attribute cannot be amended. The attribute Date Last Modified records the date of the most recent revision to the item description.

Application notes

There is no manual intervention in the allocation of this date.

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.2.5