The National Archives Catalog

Geographic Reference

Mandatory Repeatable Data Type Authority Level Available A/V Only Public Element
No Yes Variable Character Length (700) Geographic Authority File Series
File Unit
No Yes


Definition: The geographic area represented in the archival materials.


Purpose: Allows users to search for archival materials by geographic areas.


Relationship: This element is independent.



Choose the appropriate geographic area of the archival materials from the Geographic Reference: Heading search. Geographic subject headings result from the Library of Congress Name Authority File and the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Geographic name and subject forms are based on the Resource Description and Access (RDA) content standard.

Assign a geographic access point when materials have a geographic focus or when a considerable body of information about a geographic location is contained in the archival materials.

Best practice is to "anchor," or explain, all access points narratively in the descriptive record in which the access point appears. Access points may be anchored in narrative fields like Title, Scope and Content Note, Function and Use, and Shot List or in Creating Organization; access points are not considered anchored by the Container List field. You are encouraged to adhere to this best practice, and to ask yourself the question "will it be apparent to the user how these holdings relate to the access point I have chosen." This best practice will be enforced at the series level, but not at the file unit and item levels.



Springfield (Mass.)



Independence (Mo.)



Athens (Ga.)

Athens (Greece)


Paris (Tenn.)

Paris (France)


Los Angeles (Calif.)

Dallas (Tex.)

Dallas County (Iowa)


Sheffield (Ala.)

Sheffield (England)


Mississippi River

Columbia River Great Basin Divide (Idaho)

Long Island Sound (N.Y. and Conn.)

Superior, Lake

Erie, Lake


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