Records Managers

Disposition of Federal Records: A Records Management Handbook



2000 Web Edition (of 1997 printed publication)

Disposition of Federal Records - Chapter III

3-1b. Series Inventory Form Instructions

Complete an inventory form for each record series. A series is defined as file units or other documents arranged according to a filing system or kept together because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, document a specific kind of transaction, take a particular physical form, or have some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use, such as restrictions on access and use.

Entries 1-4, 13-15, and 19 are self-explanatory.

5. Give each series a title for brief reference. Examples include property control records and bills of lading.

6. List the earliest and latest dates of the records in each series. If the series is still being created at the time of the inventory, indicate the latest date by the designation "to date" or "to present." NARA requires agencies to give inclusive dates for records proposed for permanent retention and also for nonrecurring records proposed for immediate destruction.

7. Each series description should contain enough information to show the purpose, use, and subject content of the records. Follow these guidelines in describing the series:

(a) Avoid emphasizing form numbers, especially when describing case files.

(b) Consider combining into a single inventory item a number of very small series of temporary records if they serve the same function and are proposed for the same retention period.

(c) Avoid terms, such as "miscellaneous" or "various," that add nothing to the description.

(d) Give special attention to describing potentially permanent records, because NARA requires more detailed information on them.

8. Indicate whether the record medium is paper, microfilm, electronic, audiovisual, or some combination of these. If it includes electronic or audiovisual records, use special inventory forms, such as those in NARA publications.

9. Indicate the arrangement, or filing system, used. Examples include a subject classification system and arrangements that are alphabetical by subject, alphabetical by name of claimant, geographical by state, numerical by contract number, and chronological by date of report. NARA requires agencies to indicate the arrangement of records proposed for permanent retention but not those proposed for disposal.

10. Express the volume of records in cubic feet by using the conversion table provided. NARA requires agencies to give volume figures for records proposed for permanent retention and also for nonrecurring records proposed for immediate destruction. For microform and cartographic records, also give an item count.

Cubic Footage Conversion Table
- One letter-size file drawer holds 1.5 cubic feet of records.
- One legal-size file drawer holds 2 cubic feet of records.
- Seven reels of standard digital computer tape (2400 feet long. 1/2 inch wide) equal 1 cubic foot.
- One standard records center carton holds 1 cubic foot.
- Fifty 100-foot 35 mm microfilm reels equal 1 cubic foot.
- One hundred 100-foot 16 mm microfilm reels equal 1 cubic foot.
- One letter-size National Archives box holds 0.35 cubic feet of records.
- One legal-size National Archives box holds 0.43 cubic feet of records.

11. Estimate the annual rate of accumulation for each series if the records are current and continuing. NARA requires agencies to furnish the rate of accumulation of such records proposed for permanent retention but not those proposed for disposal. If the records no longer accumulate, indicate "none."

12. Indicate how often the series is cut off and when the last cutoff occurred. If it is not cut off, explain how inactive records are separated from active ones.

16. Describe any finding aids, such as indexes, document lists, lists of file headings or containers, and classification or filing manuals. If they cover more than one series, note that fact. If they are not in the same office or area as the related series, indicate their location.

17. Note any restrictions on access to, and use of, the particular series, such as restrictions relating to personal privacy or national security. NARA requires agencies to indicate any Privacy Act restrictions on records proposed for eventual destruction and any Freedom of Information Act restrictions on records proposed for immediate transfer to the National Archives.

18. Note the physical condition of records that are actually or potentially permanent, especially those stored offsite. Identify any threats, such as overhead water pipes, electrical equipment, excessive heat and/or humidity, vermin, and inadequate security.

Note: Web version may vary from the printed version.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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