2.3 Title (Required)

Purpose and Scope

This element provides a word or phrase by which the material being described is known or can be identified. A title may be devised or formal.

Commentary: A devised title is one provided by the archivist when there is no formal title for the materials being described or when the formal title is misleading or inadequate. The rules for recording a devised title differ from the rules for recording a formal title. Archivists usually devise titles for archival materials.

Devised titles generally have two parts:

  • the name of the creator(s) or collector(s)
  • the nature of the materials being described

A formal title is one that appears prominently on or in the materials being described and is most commonly found in material that has been published or distributed, such as a title on a book, report, map, or film. Formal titles can also be found on unpublished material that bears a meaningful name consciously given by the creator of the material, (e.g., a caption on a photograph, label on a folder, or leader on a film).

In the absence of a meaningful formal title, a title must be devised. The archivist must use professional judgment to determine when it is appropriate to devise a title rather than transcribe a label on a container that may be misleading. When they occur at all in archival materials, formal titles are most commonly found on files or items.

Sources of Information

2.3.1 When devising a title, take the information from any reliable source, including the internal evidence of the materials being described, an external source such as a records schedule or communication with a donor, or a title on another copy or version of the materials being described.

2.3.2 When recording a formal title, transcribe the information according to the appropriate standard. Some companion standards are suggested in Appendix B. Rules for transcribing formal titles are not provided here.

General Rules

2.3.3 When devising title information, compose a brief title1 that uniquely identifies the material, normally consisting of a name segment, a term indicating the nature of the unit being described,2 and optionally a topical segment as instructed in the following rules. Do not enclose devised titles in square brackets.

Commentary:

  • In multilevel descriptions the name segment may be inherited from a higher level of description and may not need to be explicitly stated at lower levels.
  • When the repository is responsible for assembling a collection, provide, as part of the devised title, the institution's name as the collector.
  • The topical segment should be used only when the identification of the material cannot be made clear from the name and nature elements.

Name Segment

2.3.4 Record the name(s) of the person(s), family (families), or corporate body3 predominantly responsible for the creation, assembly, accumulation, and/or maintenance of the materials.

Graciany Miranda Archilla

Bacot family

Bank of Cape Fear (Wilmington, N.C.) Hillsboro Branch

Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act

Cameron family

Caroline and Erwin Swann

University of California, Santa Barbara Office of Public Information

Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Northeast Region

2.3.5 Record the name(s) in the form by which the creator or collector is generally known.4 Record the name(s) in the natural language order of the language of the person’s or corporate body’s country of residence or activity or the official language of the corporate body. The name may be abbreviated if a fuller form of the name appears elsewhere in the descriptive record (e.g., in the administrative/biographical history) or as an access point.

Bessye J. Bearden

as opposed to the controlled form, “Bearden, Bessye J.”

WAPOR

The controlled form World Association for Public Opinion Research appears in the Name of Creator(s) Element.

2.3.6 If the name of the creator, assembler, or collector is not known, do not record a name. In such cases, devise the nature of the archival materials for the title as instructed in rules 2.3.18–2.3.20 and 2.3.22.

Collection of San Francisco Graft Prosecution Records

Performing Arts publications collection

Name Segment for More Than One Person

2.3.7 If three or fewer persons are credited with, or predominantly responsible for, the creation of the materials as a whole, record their names in direct order. The person who was responsible for the creation of the greatest part of the materials should be listed first. If no such determination can be made, the names should be listed in alphabetical order.

John and Leni Sinclair papers

Eugenia Rawls and Donald Seawell theater collection

2.3.8 If responsibility for the creation of the materials is dispersed among more than three persons, record the name of the individual whose material predominates. If this does not apply, choose the name considered most appropriate.

2.3.9 Optionally, include all the names of the persons who are credited with or predominantly responsible for the creation of the materials.

Name Segment for Families

2.3.10 If the materials were created, assembled, accumulated, and/or used in the context of familial relations by individuals who share a common surname, record that name followed by the word family.

Harvey family papers

Grieg family photographs

2.3.11 If the materials were created, assembled, accumulated, and/or used in the context of familial relations by individuals who do not share a common surname, record all their names followed by the word family.

Paul Hibbet Clyde and Mary Kestler family papers

2.3.12 Optionally, if the materials were created, assembled, accumulated, and/or used in the context of familial relations but one person’s material predominates, record that person’s full name followed by the word family.

Andrew Swanson family papers

2.3.13 If two or three families are credited with, or predominantly responsible for, the creation of the materials, record all the family names followed by the word families.

Short, Harrison, and Symmes families papers

2.3.14 If responsibility for the creation of the materials is dispersed among more than three families, record only the name of the family whose material predominates. If no one family’s material predominates, choose the name considered most appropriate.

Young family papers

Collection material predominantly from the Young family of Paw Paw, Michigan, but also relates to Butler, Carpenter, Comstock, and Goodrich families. Example from the Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

2.3.15 Optionally, include all the names of the families who are credited with, or predominantly responsible for, the creation of the materials.

Clement, Balinger, Logan, and Stiles family papers

Collection title from the Camden County Historical Society.

Name Segment for Corporate Bodies

Single corporate body see Rule 2.3.4.

More than one corporate body 

2.3.16 If the records of more than one corporate body are included in the materials, record only one name in the title. Establish a consistent policy for selecting the name of the corporate body to be used in the title. While the name of only one corporate body can be included in the title, names of other corporate bodies whose records are included in the materials may be recorded in the Name of Creator(s) Element as specified in Rule 2.6.7.

British American Tobacco Company records

This body of corporate records includes records of Cameron and Cameron, D. B. Tennant and Company, David Dunlop, Export Leaf Tobacco Company, and T. C. Williams Company, all of which were tobacco exporting companies acquired by British American Tobacco Company.

Corporate body whose name has changed

2.3.17 Where the name of the corporate body has changed, use the last (latest) name of the corporate body represented in the materials being described. Predecessor names of the corporate body may be recorded in the Name of Creator(s) Element as specified in Rule 2.6.7.

University of California, Irvine, Office of Research and Graduate Studies records

These records include those from this same body under two previous names, Graduate Division (1964–1981) and Division of Graduate Studies and Research (1981–1987).

Allied Theatres of Michigan records

These materials include records of this same body under its earlier name, Motion Picture Theatre Owners of Michigan (name changed in 1931).

2.3.18 Optionally, where the name of the corporate body has changed, use the name under which the bulk of the material was created.

Nature of the Archival Unit

2.3.19 Archival materials are frequently described by devised aggregate terms such as papers (for personal materials), records (for organizational materials), or collection (for topical aggregations). However, other terms are also used. The term(s) used to describe the nature of archival materials should be comprehensible to the institution’s patrons. Titles should be constructed in a coherent and consistent format according to the rules of the individual institution.

Coalition to Stop Trident records

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church records

Mortimer Jerome Adler papers

Allyn Kellogg Ford collection of historical manuscripts

Semans family papers

2.3.20 Where the materials being described consist solely of one or two specific forms, supply those form(s)5 for the nature of the archival unit. Express the forms in their order of predominance.

English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre correspondence

John E. Brennan outdoor advertising survey reports

William Gedney photographs and writings

Troy Kinney etchings and engravings

Sarah Dyer zine collection

Andrew Jackson letter

John Kenyon Chapman files

Speeches

Devised title for a series within the Bessye J. Bearden papers

Audio and video recordings

Devised title for a series within the Jacques Derrida papers

National Academy of Sciences correspondence

Devised title for a file within the Frederick Reines papers

Council for Refugee Rights correspondence and reports

Devised title for a file within the Project Ngoc records

2.3.21 Optionally, if one or two specific forms predominate but there are also other material types present, record the one or two most predominant forms followed by the phrase “and other material” in the devised title and indicate the specific forms of material in the Scope and Content Element.

James M. Woodbury diary, letters, and other material

Sociedad Amigos de Arteaga, Inc., correspondence, flyers, and other material

Devised title for a file within the Genoveva de Arteaga papers

Topic of the Archival Unit

2.3.22 Optionally, devise a brief term or phrase that most precisely and concisely characterizes the unit being described. The term or phrase should incorporate the form(s) of material that typifies the unit and reflects the function, activity, transaction, subject, individuals, or organizations that were the basis of its creation or use.

Clarence McGehee collection on Ruth St. Denis

Catherine Clarke civil rights collection

Collection of California vacation albums

Devised title for a collection of purchased vacation albums assembled by Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine

Russian referendum collection

Devised title for a collection of materials on the 1993 Russian referendum in support of the policies of Boris Yeltsin that was assembled by Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University

Land agreements between the University of California and the Irvine Company

Edith Wharton correspondence with Morton Fullerton

Oneida Nation petition to Jasper Parrish

Frank and Frances Robinson files on Upper Newport Bay

Correspondence regarding graduate assistantships

James Joyce letter to Maurice Saillet

Richard Nixon letter to H. R. Haldeman regarding the Watergate break-in

2.3.23 When the subject of the collection is a person, and if no name has been recorded because the repository is the collector, express the title of the collection in a way that clearly indicates that the subject of the collection is not the collector.

Collection on Isadora Duncan

The collection is about Isadora Duncan; she is not the collector.

Collection of Robert Browning materials

 The collection comprises materials by Robert Browning; he is not the collector.


[1] The devised title should not be mistaken for a statement or abstract of the content of the unit being described; the devised title simply names the unit as succinctly as possible. The contents of the unit, e.g., that of an individual letter, should be described in the Scope and Content Element.

[2] The order of these elements is not prescribed.

[3] The name of more than one person or family can appear in the title; however, the name of only one corporate body can appear in the title.

[4] Guidance for choosing between different names of persons (including name changes) or between variant forms of the same name can be found in Chapter 12 (rules 12.1–12.3). Guidance for choosing between different names of corporate bodies or between variant forms of the same name can be found in Chapter 14 (rules 14.1–14.3).

[5] Form means the physical (e.g., watercolor, drawing) or intellectual (e.g., diary, journal, daybook, minute book) characteristics of a document. Repositories are strongly encouraged to use standardized vocabulary when describing form(s) of material as part of the devised title.

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