The National Archives Catalog

Custodial History Note

Mandatory Repeatable Data Type Authority Level Available A/V Only Public Element
No No Variable Character Length (2000) None Series
File Unit
No Yes


Definition: The description of the custodial history for the archival materials from the time of their creation to the time of their accessioning by NARA. This information may be particularly important for personal papers, donated materials, and Federal records that do not come to NARA through the regular government records transfer process.


Purpose: Provides information on any changes of ownership or breaks in the government chain-of-custody that may impact the interpretation of the archival materials or are significant for ensuring their authenticity and integrity.


Relationship: This element is independent.



Enter a description of any changes of ownership (the ownership history) or breaks in the government chain-of-custody for the archival materials. The description may include dates, if known.

In cases where there are no breaks in the government chain-of-custody, this element still can be used to provide information about the custodian that transferred the archival materials to NARA, especially if the information relates to the authenticity, integrity, or interpretation of the archival materials.

Do not use this element to describe internal NARA transfers, instead use Transfer Note.

Write in complete sentences. Be precise and brief. Do not use unexplained acronyms or unknown organizational designations.

If Custodial History Note uses an acronym that is not defined in either Title or Scope and Content Note, define the acronym the first time that it is used in Custodial History Note. Consult the Abbreviations section for further guidance on other abbreviation topics.




In 1983 the U.S. Air Force loaned its pre-1945 and Korean War-era photographs and related documentation (including the subject index) to the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, in accordance with a Memorandum of Agreement. The purpose of the loan was, in part, to enable the National Air and Space Museum to produce a videodisc of the collection. The records remained at the museum until 1998 when they were accessioned into the National Archives.


The nucleus of the Stephen T. Mather Collection was placed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in 1945. In 1954 it was transferred back to the National Park Service (NPS). While the collection was housed at the Library of Congress, the NPS added to it on a regular basis. No additions to the collection were made after 1954. The National Archives accessioned the Mather Collection in 1963.

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