CRS Manual - Series number, title and date ranges

Series number

Definition

A series number is a unique alpha-numeric identifier which is given to each registered series.

Purpose

The purpose of the number is to distinguish a series from all other registered series.

Relative importance

This field must be completed for all registrations (category 1).

Sources of information

To establish the series number, first choose the appropriate prefix from the current series prefix table. The next available number will be automatically allocated from the prefix block.

Standards for content

The series number consists of a prefix of one character (except 'AWM' - Australian War Memorial) followed by a number of one or more digits, eg AWM27, B2001, J53. The numbers are automatically allocated. Numbers are sequential within each register.

Series prefix table
Valid prefixes
National Archives of Australia, National Office ACTA
Australian War MemorialAWM
National Archives of Australia, VictoriaB
National Archives of Australia, New South WalesC
National Archives of Australia, South AustraliaD
National Archives of Australia, Northern TerritoryE
National Archives of Australia, Queensland (including North Queensland)J
National Archives of Australia, Western AustraliaK
Personal and corporate records (registered by National Archives of Australia, all offices)M
Christmas Island Administration recordsN
National Archives of Australia, TasmaniaP
Intergovernmental records (registered by National Archives of Australia, all offices)R
Discontinued CRS System prefixes - prefixes no longer used for new registrations but which may control records in custody
Northern Territory Administration Records (allocation from this prefix has ceased)F
Papua and New Guinea Administration records (to be allocated by the National Office)G
Norfolk Island Administration records (allocation from this prefix has ceased)H
Territorial Personal Archives, Northern Territory (allocation from this prefix has ceased)O
Discontinued Accession System prefixes - prefixes no longer used for new registrations but which may control records in custody
Adelaide PermanentAP
Adelaide TemporaryAT
Brisbane PermanentBP
Brisbane TemporaryBT
Canberra PermanentCP
Canberra TemporaryCT
Melbourne PermanentMP
Melbourne TemporaryMT
Perth PermanentPP
Perth TemporaryPT
Sydney PermanentSP
Sydney TemporaryST
Discontinued unserialised accession prefixes - prefixes no longer used for new registrations but which may control records in custody
Australian Capital Territory AccessionAA
New South Wales AccessionNA
North Queensland AccessionNQA
Northern Territory AccessionNTAC
Queensland AccessionQA
South Australia AccessionSA
Tasmania AccessionTA
Victoria AccessionVA
Western Australia AccessionWA

 

Amendments

The series number is protected against update and only in very rare situations can it be deleted.

Application notes

First verify the status of the records and that they are eligible for registration by the Archives. Use the prefix allocated for the office first registering the series except where a special category of records is being registered. Special categories include personal and corporate records (both prefix M) and intergovernmental records (prefix R). The AWM prefix is reserved for Commonwealth records registered by the Australian War Memorial. Some prefixes such as G, F, M, and O are no longer used for new series registration but are displayed from existing data.

Former Accession System prefixes, eg AP, AT, BP, BT etc, or former CRS unserialised accession prefixes, eg AA, NA, NTAC, VA etc, are not used for new registrations.

A 'CRS' (Commonwealth Record Series) prefix is notionally attached to a series number to enable National Archives of Australia series to be distinguished from those of other institutions.

Where records in a series are wholly Commonwealth, use the relevant regional prefix, based on the regional origin of the records. In cases where a series contains wholly personal or corporate records, or contains mixed personal or corporate and Commonwealth records, use the M prefix.

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.1.1

 

Series title

Definition

The series title is the formal, official name of the series.

Purpose

The series title serves two main purposes:

Relative importance

This field must be present for all registrations (category 1).

Sources of information

The title should be determined from an examination of the records by Archives staff. Seek advice as required from the agency or person recording or transferring the series.

Standards for content

The title should be a collective name for the whole series which, when cited with the series date range and the title of the agency recording, indicates the nature and content of the series.

Series titles should be succinct and well constructed. They should not contain so much information that they become clumsy and difficult to read. As a general rule, any more than 150 characters (about 30 words) will start to become unwieldy.

A title that covers more than one discrete series in the same registration (as in the case of many unserialised accessions) is subject to the same general standards as for the titles of single series, although there is some additional leeway for indicating the scope of the material covered by the title.

A title should include reference to some or all of the following, depending on the specific character and coverage of the series, and bearing in mind that you will need to precis complex titles to make them readable:

Physical format - book, file, card, photograph etc and, if necessary, colour or material, eg

Loan account cards, audit sheets and posting media, single number series
Australian Army aerial photographs of Australia [black and white contact prints]
Receipt books, annual single number series
Mounted photographs and certificates
Meteorological data, single number series [electronic records]

Purpose or role - correspondence, index, eg

General files, single number series with 'G' prefix [first system]
Name index cards to staff correspondence
Subject index cards for correspondence files, annual single number series

System of arrangement/control - particularly if it helps to distinguish the series from another series of similar date from the same agency (for further information, see the table under system of arrangement/control below), eg

Correspondence files, alphabetical series by company initials, or abbreviated name
Correspondence files, multiple number series
Aircraft maintenance files, annual single number series with 'S' [South Australia] prefix

Subject of the series - particularly if the series can be distinguished from similar series by the function it documents, eg

Miscellaneous papers and correspondence relating to aliens
Newspaper clippings on electoral matters

Security classification - if the series was given a security classification when in the agency, eg

Correspondence files, annual single number series [classified]
Correspondence files, two-number system with letter prefix, secret and confidential series [third system]

Geographic area - if the series deals predominantly with particular localities, eg

Maps of the Commonwealth electoral divisions of the State of New South Wales
Maps and plans relating to the River Murray Waters Scheme

Amendments

You will note a number of CRS System unserialised accessions have a date range at the end of their title. Dates should be deleted when noticed. Do not add details of series formerly assigned to CSIRO Archives Series. Use the Additional information subheading in the Series Descriptive Note to include these references.

Revising existing series titles

Over time it may be found that a series title has errors or omissions, or problems with style or content. Revisions to existing titles should be made to correct these problems and to ensure that the title is not misleading. However, caution is required where a series title has been in use for a long period and might have been cited in reference guides and, perhaps, publications.

Application notes

The construction of clear, meaningful and accurate series titles is an important skill to master. It requires good language skills to describe the essential character of a body of records, in a few lines, for a broad audience. It also requires a knowledge of recordkeeping systems and practices and of the terms that are commonly used to describe records.

The series title is only part of the total description for any series and this allows room for flexibility in the construction of individual titles. However, it is important to keep in mind the purpose of the title in the scheme of descriptive practice.

Inclusion of provenance data in a series title

As the agency or person recording a series is available as a separate, updateable entry in CRS System practice, the inclusion of references to provenance in series titles is usually unnecessary and should be avoided.

However, you can include general references to provenance, that is, persons, functions or administrative units, in series titles where the references will aid understanding and retrieval. Be aware that where provenance references are made in titles of continuing series, the inclusion of provenance information will cause an additional updating burden following administrative changes. Good examples of the use of provenance in series titles are:

Personal history cards of officers separating from the service from central office agencies administering works and construction functions
Australian Forestry School Flag
(where not to identify the flag would cause doubt - a series title of 'Flag' does not convey sufficient meaning)
Papers relating to surveys, aerial photography, mapping and conferences [some collected by Arthur Percival, Commonwealth Surveyor-General]

Avoid references to agency or person numbers in series titles. The use of provenance information can lead to confusion when the title of the series legitimately includes a reference to an administrative body that is not the agency recording. The example below, is however, acceptable:

Department of Finance monthly statement, chronological series
(where the agency recording is the Attorney-General's Department, not Finance)
Inclusion of dates in a series title

Do not repeat series accumulation or series contents dates in the title. In the interests of clarity, you may mention in the title the period to which the records relate if notably different from the contents or accumulation dates. In the following example you will note that the series date range for the register is 1961 and the contents date range is also for the year 1961 despite the fact that the records relate to immigration records created between 1935 and 1938.

File disposal register for immigration records [1935-1938] in A1, Correspondence files, annual single number series


(where the series date range of the register is 1961, and the series contents date range is 1961-1961)

References to related series in a series title

If the series being registered controls another series, such as index cards, the series title should usually include a reference to the controlled series, eg

Registration and movement cards for correspondence files, annual single number series

You can also include a reference to the series number (without the CRS prefix) of the controlled series if it will make the relationship between the series obvious for users. However, where a series controls more than two other series it is best to construct a general reference to the controlled series rather than load the title with multiple references to numbers and other titles which, in any case, will be recorded in the Controlled Series entry for the series. For example, the first two series titles below are reasonably easy to read and interpret. If there were any more references it would become difficult, and it would be better, in such cases, to use a general reference as in the third title below:

Name index cards to X105, Correspondence files, multiple number series
Name index cards to X5601, Correspondence files, annual single number series and X105, Correspondence files, multiple number series
Registration books for correspondence files, various multiple number series

Do not refer to Accession System or unserialised accession numbers in series titles as these types of accessions are often cancelled or converted.

Reference to systems of arrangement and control in a series title

The purpose of including a reference to the system of arrangement and control for a series in the series title is to distinguish the series from others, not to provide a full explanation of the system of arrangement.

The system of arrangement is explained in a separate entry on the registration, for example, a system of arrangement may be 'chronological by date of receipt' but the reference in a series title may be abbreviated to 'chronological series'.

In the case of titles for control records, reference to the system of arrangement and control is often omitted and, instead, a system of arrangement and control reference is included for the controlled series. In the following example, the control record name index could be expected to be in alphabetical order, but it would be awkward and confusing to include mention of it:

Name index cards to X105, Correspondence files, multiple number series

Do not refer to the absence of a control system in the title of a single item series, or where there is no system of arrangement evident.

Words such as 'general' and 'miscellaneous' should be used sparingly in series titles imposed by the Archives. These words may be used when they are part of the way the agency describes its records or to distinguish the series from other similar series within the agency's recordkeeping system, for example, using agency terminology to distinguish between:

Despatches to Secretary of State, Governor of Queensland and Governor-General [British New Guinea outward letter books, with indexes] and
British New Guinea outward letter books, miscellaneous
Inclusion of the agency's local name for a series in a series title

Where an agency or person has a special or local name for a series, include it in the title entry to assist recognition. However, the special or local name should be qualified if necessary by a descriptive title determined by the registration officer (the original title in these cases is enclosed in quotation marks), eg

'Officers Resigned' [Binder containing employment and salary history sheets for officers who resigned or were transferred]

Also, where the local name for a series is in, or is partly in, a foreign language, it should be included in the title, followed by a translation, for ease of reading, eg

AA1963/95, Mitteilungen aus den deutschen Schutzgebieten, Erganzungsheft No. 11, 1914. Karte 1 [Reports from the German Protectorate, supplement no. 11, 1914. Chart 1]

Similarly, where a series comprises a publication or periodical with a title of its own, that title should be included (in quotation marks) in the series title, or even comprise the whole title, eg

'Great Mate' - the newsletter of the Australian Assistance Scheme
Original or copy

It is usually assumed that the records being described are original records, so it is not necessary to state this in the title. It is necessary, however, to indicate if the series consists of copies.

If the Archives has documented separately both a series of originals and a series of copies and staff continually confuse the two, it would be appropriate to add [original] to the title of the series of originals, whilst ensuring that the series title for the copies clearly states it is a copy, eg

A6216, Report of the Royal Commission on Espionage [signed original]
A6217, Prime Minister's copy of the Report of the Royal Commission on Espionage
A6218, Secretariat's copy of the Report of the Royal Commission on Espionage
A6235, Report of the Royal Commission on Espionage [version printed for general distribution]
Transfer of ownership - records withdrawn from Archives

A series registration will need to be amended following the transfer out of custody of some or all of the series to another government or corporation. The guidelines below assume that documentation has been updated to show changes of ownership or control, where necessary, by amending agency controlling references.

Series wholly transferred from custody

(Note that series registrations in this category may ultimately be cancelled.)

For series wholly transferred from the Archives' custody, add the following message to the end of the title to indicate what has occurred:

Series title: [transferred to {name of government or corporation} custody, {year}]
Series partially transferred from custody

For series partially transferred from the Archives' custody, add the following message to the end of the series title to indicate what has occurred:

Series title: [portion transferred to {name of government or corporation} custody]
Styles issues
Capitals

Use upper and lower case in titles and text.

Use capitals for the initial letter(s) of:

Quotations

Use single (not double) quotation marks for:

Acronyms and abbreviations etc

Acronyms, abbreviations and contractions may be used in titles although, for all but the most common ones, the expanded form must also be given.

If acronyms or abbreviations are used, enter them without full stops or spaces, eg

CSIRO not C.S.I.R.O.
NSW not N.S.W.
HMAS not H.M.A.S.

In titles that refer to prefixes, infixes or suffixes, whose meaning is not self-evident, they should be explained briefly within square brackets, eg

Correspondence files, two number series with 'CP' [Cairns Project] prefix

There is no need to explain or expand prefixes etc if the meaning is already given in the title, eg

Commonwealth Agency files, single number series with 'CA' prefix

When referring to forms in a series registration, cite the form title followed by the form identifier(s), if any, eg

Parcel Post Country Assessment, Form PPC 6
Use of square brackets and round brackets

Square brackets [ ] should be used to indicate where information has been supplied and inserted by the Archives. However, do not use square brackets to enclose the whole of a series title that has been imposed by the Archives.

In the past round brackets ( ) were used where the information supplied merely clarifies or expands on acronyms, abbreviations etc, whether or not they are part of an imposed title or part of an official title. Only use round brackets in a series title where they form part of the agency or person's special or local titles.

For consistency, use square brackets in all situations where brackets are required, eg

Correspondence files, multiple number series, third classified system [Marble Bar]
Correspondence files, annual single number series with 'Aust' [Austria] prefix

Never split a word or number with a bracket. Not only is it clumsy to write and read, but terms split by brackets cannot be retrieved by keyword searching on a database, for example, where you expand the contraction Cwlth in an agency's local series title, write 'Cwlth' [Commonwealth] not C[ommon]w[ea]lth.

Other types of brackets are not usually used.

Other punctuation

Commas and semi-colons should be used to break up a title in the same way as for general usage. Use question and exclamation marks and dashes when citing titles within titles only where the title cited includes a mark or dash. Do not use dashes in other situations. If necessary you can use a question mark may be used where there is doubt about the meaning of prefixes or comments that are added by other Archives staff, eg

Correspondence files with 'RIC' [?Records Inventories Canberra] prefix

Do not put a full stop at the end of a title.

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.1.2

 

Accumulation date range

Definition

The accumulation date range is the start and finish dates of accumulation (registration) of the items within the series being described.

Purpose

The dates of accumulation show the beginning and end of the recordkeeping system process for the series. If the accumulation process is continuing at the time of registering a series, an open date range is given.

Relative importance

This field must be present for all registrations (category 1). These dates are important in allowing users to determine whether a series was created in their period of interest.

Sources of information

The accumulation date range can be determined from the items within a series and associated control records.

Standards for content

There are several elements in the date range: start date, end date, start date qualifier and end date qualifier. The full date format is day-month-year, characterised as DD Mon YYYY, for example, 15 Jan 1951. Precise dates do not always have to be determined for descriptive purposes. The year is sufficient. Permitted date qualifiers are c (circa) and by.

Amendments

When the closing date of a series (previously documented as continuing) becomes known, the end date of the series date range should be completed. Until then, the end date should be left blank. Appropriate alterations should be made to the date range if the existing range is found to be inaccurate.

Application notes

The first and last dates on which items within a series were created or registered (allocated a control symbol within the recordkeeping system) should be determined by an examination of the items and their associated control records. The precise day can be mentioned, but generally identification of months and years is sufficient.

Expression of dates

All dates in predetermined date fields are subject to validation to facilitate searching, sorting, validations and consistency in reports. It is not necessary to enter day, month and year if the full date is not known. Use a date qualifier only if the year is in doubt. (Unless notes are kept to indicate the part or parts of the date to which a qualifier applies, the use of the qualifier can be misleading, especially when just year ranges and qualifiers are presented in reports).

Date range conventions

Start date qualifier

(only if year is in doubt)

circa

by

Start date

1952

May 1952

23 May 1952

End date qualifier

(only if year is in doubt)

circa

by

End date

1978

November 1978

23 November 1978

 

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.2.3

 

Series contents date range

Definition

The series contents date range is the dates of the earliest and latest original record material within items of the series being registered.

Purpose

The purpose of this date range is to facilitate the retrieval of information within a series by providing information on the actual dates of original record action within a series. These dates may differ considerably from the dates the series was accumulated.

Note that the series contents date range is not intended to indicate the date range of contents in the Archives custody. This is separate descriptive and control information that is not currently collected by the Archives.

Relative importance

This field must be present where applicable, to provide essential context or facilitate management (category 2). These dates are important in allowing users to determine whether the series contains record material of the period in which they are interested. Access staff use contents dates to identify series containing records in or approaching the open access period.

Sources of information

Consult the records themselves to determine the series contents date range.

Standards for content

There are several elements in the date range: start date, end date, start date qualifier and end date qualifier. The full date format is day-month-year, characterised as DD Mon YYYY, for example, 15 Jan 1951. Precise dates do not always have to be determined for descriptive purposes. Permitted date qualifiers are c (circa) and by.

Amendments

The series content date range should be completed following the cessation of a continuing series. Until then, the end date should be left blank. Appropriate alterations should be made to the date range if the existing range is found to be inaccurate, such as during a survey of item level contents date range information.

Application notes

To establish the correct contents date range, the items will need to be examined carefully. It is possible for the contents date range to vary from the series date range because earlier record material or items from another series may have been added (or top-numbered) over the years to the series being registered. Later records may also have been added to items after the series had nominally ceased being recorded, perhaps even after the commencement of a subsequent series, for example, papers added to files after the last file was allocated a control symbol; annotations to a register, constituting record action, after the last case was registered.

The status of copied material is discussed in the item description procedures under 'Item contents date range'.

Expression of dates

All dates in predetermined date fields are subject to validation to facilitate searching, sorting, validations and consistency in reports. It is not necessary to enter day, month and year if the full date is not known. Use a date qualifier only if the year is in doubt. (Unless notes are kept to indicate the part or parts of the date to which a qualifier applies, the use of the qualifier can be misleading, especially when just year ranges and qualifiers are presented in reports.)

Date range conventions

Start date qualifier

(only if year is in doubt)

circa

by

Start date

1952

May 1952

23 May 1952

End date qualifier

(only if year is in doubt)

circa

by

End date

1978

November 1978

23 November 1978

 

Relationship to ISAD(G): 3.1.3