Glossary search


Distinguish From: 

n. ~ 1. Materials physically and legally transferred to a repository as a unit at a single time; an acquisition.

- v. ~ 2. To take legal and physical custody of a group of records or other materials and to formally document their receipt. - 3. To document the transfer of records or materials in a register, database, or other log of the repository's holdings.


The materials may be acquired by gift, bequest, purchase, transfer, retention schedule, or statute. An accession may be part of a larger, existing collection. An accession added to existing collections is sometimes called an accretion or an accrual.

'Accession' should be distinguished from 'acquisition'. As nouns, they are synonymous. However, the verb 'accession' goes far beyond the sense of 'acquire', connoting the initial steps of processing by establishing rudimentary physical and intellectual control over the materials by entering brief information about those materials in a register, database, or other log of the repository's holdings.

(Pederson 1987, p. 115) Having made sure that new material has been legally transferred to your archives, the next, and vitally important, step is to gain control over it. This initial process is called accessioning3 which records information about origins, creator, contents, format and extent in such a way that documents cannot become intermingled with other materials held by the archives. Accessioning provides the basic level of physical and intellectual control over incoming material. . . . ¶ Accessioning consists of a sequence of different activities. These include preliminary sorting of the accession, recording the essential identifying information about the material, and its creator in the accession register and providing suitable storage for the material.