The National Archives Catalog


Coverage Start Date

Mandatory Repeatable Data Type Authority Level Available A/V Only Public Element
No No Date None Record Group
Collection
Series
File Unit
Item
No Yes
Definition:

The beginning of the time period covered by the subject(s) of the record group, collection, or archival materials.

Purpose: Enables users to retrieve and sort record groups, collections, and archival materials by subject time period. Distinguishes the subject coverage time period of the record group, collection, or archival materials if different from the inclusive dates (the time period when the record group, collection, or archival materials were created, maintained, or accumulated).
Relationship: This element and Coverage End Date are dependent on each other. If Coverage Start Date is specified, then Coverage End Date must be created. Coverage Start Date Qualifier is dependent on this element. To have Coverage Start Date Qualifier, Coverage Start Date must be created.
Guidance:

SERIES LEVEL

Inclusive Dates Versus Coverage Dates
At the Series Level, if the coverage dates differ from the inclusive dates, then enter the starting date of the subject of the archival materials.

Inclusive dates are those that comprise the time period during which the series was created, maintained, or accumulated as a unified filing system by the creator because of some relationship arising out of the records creation, receipt, or use. Coverage dates are those that comprise the subject time period covered by the archival materials. Normally, the subject dates are the same as the inclusive dates. However, if the dates are different, and that difference is significant, use the coverage dates as appropriate.

ALL LEVELS

When the Date Span is Only One Specific Date
If the date is a specific day (02/11/1969), month (02/1969), or year (1969), enter the date in Coverage Start Date and then repeat the same specific date in Coverage End Date.

When the Date Span is One of Two Years
If the date is one of two years (1953 or 1954), then enter the first year (1953) in Coverage Start Date, enter the second year (1954) in Coverage End Date, and use the "ca." in Coverage Start Date Qualifier and Coverage End Date Qualifier.

When the Date Span is Several Years
If the dates fall between several years (1826-1835), then enter the earliest possible date (1826) in Coverage Start Date, enter the latest possible date (1835) in Coverage End Date, and use the "ca." in Coverage Start Date Qualifier and Coverage End Date Qualifier.

When the Date Span is a Decade
When describing a decade as a date span, enter the first year of the decade (1920) in Coverage Start Date, enter the last year of the decade (1929) in Coverage End Date, and use the "ca." in Coverage Start Date Qualifier and Coverage End Date Qualifier.

When the Date Span is a Century
When describing a century as a date span, enter the first year of the century (1700) in Coverage Start Date, enter the last year of the century (1799) in Coverage End Date, and use the "ca." in Coverage Start Date Qualifier and Coverage End Date Qualifier.

Dates Before the Year 1000
For dates before the year 1000, including B.C. dates, leave this field blank and explain in Date Note.

Date Form
Enter the date in MM/DD/YYYY form.
If the day is unknown, enter the month and year in the MM/YYYY form.
If the month is unknown, enter the year in the YYYY form.
Do not use 00 as a month or day.

Multiple Dates
If multiple date elements are used in a description at the Record Group, Collection, or Series Level, explain the distinctions in Date Note. For example, if a series has both inclusive dates and coverage dates, then explain the different dates in Date Note. At the File Unit and Item Level, it is not necessary to explain the distinctions between multiple date elements.

Examples:
Inclusive Start Date - 1970
Inclusive End Date - 1979
Coverage Start Date - 1939
Coverage End Date - 1979
Date Note - Between 1970 and 1979 the Justice Department created (through accumulation) a series of historical photographs, some of which were taken as early as 1939.
Inclusive Start Date - 1921
Inclusive End Date - 1940
Coverage Start Date - 1860
Coverage End Date - 1865
Date Note - These Civil War-era photographs were obtained by the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in 1921 and used by that organization through 1940.


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