The National Archives Catalog

Lifecycle Data Requirements Guide - Organizational Reference

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



The name of an organization that is the subject of or highly relevant to the archival materials.

Organizational entities include meetings, conferences, commissions, production groups, and Federal agencies: any entity other than an individual.


Purpose: Enables users to search for archival materials about specific organizations.


Relationship: This element is independent.



Choose the name of the organization from the Organization Authority File.

This data is called an "access point." At the series level, access points must be "anchored" or explained 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. Ask yourself the question "will it be apparent to the user how these holdings relate to the access point I have chosen."

At the file unit and item levels, it is best practice to anchor the terms, and you are encouraged but not required to adhere to best practice.

Do not confuse Organizational Reference with Organizational Contributor. The "reference" describes whom the records are about while the "contributor" describes whom the records are by.

If the role of the organization is not clear or the organization acts as both a contributor and subject, indicate the organization in both Organizational Contributor and Organizational Reference.


Creating Organization - Department of Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard. Office of Public and International Affairs.
Organizational Contributor - Department of Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard Band.
Organizational Contributor Type - Musician
Organizational Reference - Department of Transportation. U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard Band.
[For a motion picture that is both by and about the band.]