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Records Structure & Access

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Structure of Archival Records


Archives are the documents created, received, and accumulated by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs, and preserved because of their continuing value. Records from an office or administrative unit are classified as a record group, and the records of an individual or family are classified as personal papers or manuscript collection. Archival records are arranged to represent their different levels of hierarchical control, as well as their creation, use, and storage. The basic units of archival control are as follows: record group or personal papers collection, subgroup, series, subseries, folder, and item. Within each group of records, some or all of the above levels of control will be present, the most prevalent record unit being the record series.


Gaining Access to Records


For researchers visiting the Archives, the "Information Leaflet" series and finding guides will be the most direct means to gain access to the Archives' holdings. Users visiting the Archives will also want to consult the published Oberlin History Bibliography (1992), the Guide to the Women's History Sources in the Oberlin College Archives (1990), and the Guide to the Architectural Sources in the Oberlin College Archives (1996).

We have about 416 online finding guides, which describe our holdings. Users may especially like to examine the finding guides of our personal papers collection (RG 30), Oberlin community (RG 31), and student life (RG 19). Also, located on O.B.I.S. (Oberlin Bibliographical Information System) and on the two national bibliographic utilities (O.C.L.C. and R.L.I.N.) are dozens of archival collection level records.