access: the ability to locate relevant information through the use of catalogs, indexes, finding aids, or other tools; the permission to locate and retrieve information for use (consultation or reference) within legally established restrictions of privacy, confidentiality, and security clearance
appraisal: the process of identifying materials offered to an archive that have sufficient value to be accessioned; the process of determining the length of time records should be retained, based on legal requirements and on their current and potential usefulness; the process of determining hte market value of an item
arrangement: the process of organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical or intellectual control over the materials
collection: a group of materials with some unifying characteristic
context: the organizational, functional, and operational circumstances surrounding materials' creation, receipt, storage, or use, and its relationship to other materials
description: the process of creating a finding aid or other access tools that allow individuals to browse a surrogate of the collection to facilitate access and that improve security by creating a record of the collection and by minimizing the amount of handling of the original materials
finding aid: a description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials
linear feet: a measure of shelf space necessary to store documents
original order: the organization and sequence of records established by the creator of the records; a fundamental principle in archives meant to preserve existing relationships and evidential significance that can be inferred from the context of the records
provenance/respect des fonds: the origin or source of something; information regarding the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection. Note: The principal or provenance and respect des fonds is fundamental in archives and dictates that records of different origins (provenance) be kept separate to preserve their context
record: data or information that has been fixed on some medium; that has content, context, and structure; and that is used as an extension of human memory or to demonstrate accountability
Terms and definitions obtained from the Glossary of the Society of American Archivists (SAA).
While art and humanities scholars interpret the archive in ways that reflect the practices of their own disciplines, archivists often have a more embedded understanding of the institution they study. As such, it is worth perusing the scholarly literature made by archivists to understand and theorize the archival sciences.