SAA’s New Dictionary of Archives Terminology Launched

APRIL 29, 2020 — A is for access, advocacy, and appraisal. B is for bit rot and bone folder. C is for cataloging. And D is for Dictionary of Archives Terminology, SAA's fabulous new online resource at! With hundreds of new terms, thousands of citations from more than 600 sources, and a brand-new online platform, it’s a major upgrade. 

Compiled by SAA’s Dictionary Working Group, the Dictionary of Archives Terminology (DAT) expands upon A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology by Richard Pearce-Moses (SAA, 2005), which introduced a syndetic structure and a style that was descriptive—based on actual usage—versus prescriptive. The syndetic structure provides a rich context for each entry to help users better understand its meaning and usage. 

With this web-only publication, the Dictionary Working Group has expanded the connections made for each entry and added hyperlinks to take you directly to related terms. Entries have been added to one or more of 34 categories. Not only do these categories provide additional context for individual entries, they provide users with the ability to view all terms within a particular topic. 

The interface is another major upgrade. SAA partnered with IDM Group to implement its robust dictionary production software. The website makes it easy to search for terms, find related words, and trace their roots in the archival literature. Plus, it’s just fun to use! 

The Dictionary of Archives Terminology is a work in progress and updates to it will be made weekly as new terms are defined and existing terms revised. Your feedback on a term helps shape the lexicon. You can also suggest new terms for potential inclusion in the dictionary or new uses of words already defined. And we hope you are subscribed to Word of the Week, a weekly e-blast that delivers archives terminology straight to your email inbox. 

SAA is grateful to the Dictionary Working Group members for their enthusiasm and dedication to producing this important professional resource that has been six years in the making, and for their ongoing commitment to lexicography:

  • Rosemary Pleva Flynn (chair, University of North Dakota)
  • Kathryn Bowers (Harvard University Archives)
  • Tamar Chute (The Ohio State University)
  • Cliff Hight (Kansas State University)
  • Geof Huth (New York State Unified Court System)
  • Mary Elizabeth Ruwell (US Air Force Academy)
  • Dawn Schmitz (University of North Carolina Charlotte)
  • Margery N. Sly (Temple University Libraries)
  • Katy Sternberger (Portsmouth Athenaeum)

X is for x-ray, xerography, and XML. Y is for yellowing. And z is for zip drive, as in zip on over to and test drive this powerful new resource!

3 Comment(s) to the "SAA’s New Dictionary of Archives Terminology Launched"
Coby says:
The launch of the Dictionary

The launch of the Dictionary of Archives Terminology (DAT) by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) marks a significant milestone for the archival community. With its user-friendly online platform, DAT offers a wealth of information on archival concepts and practices. From "access" to "advocacy" and "appraisal" to "bit rot" and "bone folder," this comprehensive resource enriches our understanding of archival terminology. For those exploring the intricacies of preserving records in the Avatar World: City Life, DAT's syndetic structure and extensive citations from diverse sources will prove invaluable.

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Kath says:
These categories not only

These categories not only give visitors the option to view all terms within a specific topic, but they also give additional context for individual entries.  

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Nestor says:
this is a great improvement

This is a huge step on making this system more accesible for new members! I will tell the people from my favorite Roof inspection in Ocala, Worthmann Roofing