Federal Records Management

Finding Aid

All transfers to the National Archives must be accompanied by a finding aid. In most cases, the finding aid should take the form of a folder title list.

Per 36 CFR 1232.16 permanent records transferred to an offsite storage facility must include a folder title list of the box contents. A separate Electronic Records Archives (ERA) Transfer Request (TR) and folder title list is required for each individual records series at the time of accession.

For textual transfers, folder title lists are required for all Direct Offers and must be attached to the Transfer Request at the time of submission to NARA. The folder title lists must be typed, rather than handwritten. An Excel spreadsheet is the preferred file format. Folder title lists as documented on the Records Transmittal and Receipt form (SF-135) are accepted as finding aids for records transferred through the Federal Records Center Program (FRCP) in accordance with 36 CFR 1233.10. Since NARA receives the SF-135 from the FRC, agencies are not required to attach the SFs-135 to ERA Transfer Requests for Annual Move transfers from Federal Records Centers.

At a minimum, the folder title lists must be sufficiently detailed to provide access to the records by National Archives staff, your agency staff conducting research at NARA, and members of the public. In some instances for Direct Offers, SF-135s for records previously stored in the Federal Records Center system may be acceptable, however, the National Archives generally requires a new list meeting the below requirements if the box contents have changed or if the original box list is insufficiently detailed.

A folder title list typically includes the following information for each folder:

  • Box number
  • Succinct folder title reflecting the contents of the folder
  • Date range of documents contained in the folder

When available, the folder title list should also include the following information:

  • File code or agency-assigned control number
  • FOIA access restrictions
    • If some information regarding folder content cannot be released to the public, please provide a releasable and a non-releasable version of the list.
  • Flexible/big bucket crosswalk item

Additional guidance for common issues:

  • Acronyms - please spell out each acronym the first time it is used
  • Loose sheets – please place the document in a folder and provide an appropriate title reflecting the contents.
  • Untitled folders – please provide an appropriate title reflecting the contents.
  • Bound volumes/binders – please include each volume or binder as a single folder in your folder title list.

A box list may be appropriate for some records which are arranged chronologically. For example, if meeting minutes are arranged by meeting date for Fiscal Years 1980-1985, the box list would document the first folder and last folder in each box.

Examples of finding aids are included below. These files may be used as templates for creating finding aids:

  • Standard folder title list [Excel | PDF]
  • Folder title list for records with access restrictions [Excel | PDF]
  • Folder title list for records under a flexible schedule [Excel | PDF]
  • Box list [Excel | PDF]

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact your accessioning point of contact.