Scope and Content Note
|Mandatory||Repeatable||Data Type||Authority||Level Available||A/V Only||Public Element|
|No||No||Variable Character Length (9999)||None||Record Group
Guidance | Style Basics | Use of Acronyms and Abbreviations
RECORD GROUP AND COLLECTION SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTES
SERIES AND FILE UNIT SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTES | Access Points | Creators | Contributors | Models for Description | Describing Specific Records Types and Uniform Documents | Annotations | Gaps | Publication Titles
ITEM SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTES | Contributors | Individual Oral History Interviews | Photographs and Other Graphic Materials - Original Captions for Graphic Materials | Moving Image Materials - Content Titles for Moving Image Materials | Sound Recordings | Content Titles for Sound Recordings | Cartographic Materials and Architectural Drawings and Plans
Provides an in-depth discussion of the record group, collection, or archival materials.
In conjunction with Title, Creator Elements, and Date Elements, Scope and Content Note helps users decide whether they are interested in the record group, collection, or archival materials.
Write a note that provides answers to basic questions that users might ask about the record group, collection, series, file unit, or item described. Explain any significant or heavily-represented topics, people, organizations, geographic places, or languages represented in the record group, collection, series, file unit, or item, as well as the types of materials present.
Do not exceed the 9,999 character limit for this element. Keep the Scope and Content Note under 10,000 characters.
Do not use unexplained acronyms or unknown organizational designations (including NARA mail codes).Use of Acronyms and Abbreviations
RECORD GROUP AND COLLECTION SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTES
A Record Group or Collection Scope and Content Note should be a general, brief summary of the broad topics and/or records types in the series that make up the record group or collection. Do not list all of the series in the Record Group or Collection, and avoid duplicating information that exists at the Series level.
SERIES AND FILE UNIT SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTES
A series or file unit will often be varied in content and format. Describe the archival materials in these groupings with a summary explanation of the contents, resulting in a fairly general description.
At each level of description, usually indicate the level being described by using an introductory phrase such as "This series consists of" or "This file unit contains."
Scope and Content Note should contain information about: who created the archival materials, who the archival materials are about, (i.e., to what person or organization they relate,) who contributed to the production or authorship of the archival materials and what their relationship is to the activities documented; what the archival materials are generally about, what the main topics or subjects mentioned are, and what unusual or historically significant topics are mentioned in addition to the main topics presented; where the action or events take place, what specific geographic places or areas are mentioned; how the information is recorded, what record types are included, and how the information is presented. If appropriate, Scope and Content Note can mention general time periods (e.g., "post-World War II," "during the first Reagan administration," "the years leading up to the Spanish-American War," "the period between Texas' independence from Mexico and its annexation to the United States," etc.)
Do not use Scope and Content Note to capture the specific date ranges when the archival materials were created, used, or maintained by the organization or individual, why the archival materials were created, or what activities and functions caused them to be created.
Do not use Scope and Content Note to capture information that belongs in other data elements, such as Function and Use, Arrangement, the Access Restriction Elements, Technical Access Requirements Note, Custodial History Note, Container List, Shot List, Coverage Start Date, Coverage End Date, Inclusive Start Date, Inclusive End Date, or Date Note.
Do not use Scope and Content Note to capture information about the history or activities of the creating organization, or biographical information about an individual. This information belongs in the authority record for the organization or individual.
If appropriate, enter information about related records, but not if the relationship is simply one of subject or provenance.
Key topics, people, organizations, geographic places, languages, and records types mentioned in Scope and Content Note should be identified in the narrative and assigned as terms in the access points. Items identified in Scope and Content Note should have a corresponding subject term, name, place, language, or record type in one or more of the following controlled-vocabulary elements.
The creating organization or creating individual is responsible for the creation, accumulation, or maintenance of the series when in working (primary) use. Do not include agency history, personal biographies, or other information about the creators in Scope and Content Note (submit this information for inclusion in the proper authority file.). However, when there are three or more creators and at least two of the creators have overlapping dates, an explanation of the relationship between the creators and the records must be added. The explanation should describe the relationship of the creators to the records not to each other.
Contributors are responsible for the intellectual, technical, artistic, design or financial production of the archival materials.
Explain the roles of the people or organizations that have contributed to the archival materials. When describing organizational records at the Series Level, the person or particular position in an organization that created the archival materials can be included. Scope and Content Note may list that person's name and/or position title as a contributor to the creation of the series. This is appropriate information for official files created by a single government functionary or office holder.
Write the full name of the contributor as it appears in the material, even though it may vary slightly from the controlled name used in Personal Contributor or Organizational Contributor.
[From the series: Photographic Reports by Harold Weaver, Forester; creator: Bureau of Indian Affairs.]
[From the series: Lloyd Norton Cutler Files; creator: Records of the White House Office of Counsel to the President (Carter Administration)]
The same person or organization may be both a contributor and a subject of the records. If so, indicate this in Scope and Content Note.
[From the series: Textual Records Related to the Survey of Radio Use in the United States; creator: Federal Communications Commission.]
MODELS FOR DESCRIPTION
There are two models for writing Scope and Content Note.
The first model lists all record types together in order of the material's arrangement, or from most numerous to least numerous. This is followed by a description of the subject content of the materials, often beginning with the phrase, "The materials relate to... ."
The second Scope and Content Note model lists each record type separately, followed by the subject content of that record type. This model links together the specific records types with their subject content, showing what types of documents contain which topics. This type of narrative description is most appropriate for description at the Series Level, particularly when describing series with many file units.
DESCRIBING SPECIFIC RECORDS TYPES AND UNIFORM DOCUMENTS
Enter information about the specific records types, such as reports, minutes, correspondence, speeches, questionnaires, or drawings.
A uniform set of documents, such as census records, is composed of only one Specific Records Type. Describe the documents with more specific terms to indicate the kinds of information recorded in the documents.
Indicate if the archival materials have been annotated. Annotations are notes added to the materials as comments or explanations.
At the Series and File Unit Levels, Scope and Content Note orients the user toward the breadth of the archival materials, and also provides information about significant gaps in the materials.
If a series consists of a number of publications and Title refers to the content or purpose of the publications, such as "Journals Used in Foreign Relations Work," then the actual publication titles may be listed in Scope and Content Note.
ITEM SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTES
A scope and content note written for an item allows for a greater level of detail than will a description at a higher level. In general, follow the guidance for writing Series Level and File Unit Level scope and content notes when writing Item Level scope and content notes. However, a single document or item is more likely devoted to a single topic or theme, so an item is described in much more specific terms. This type of description is called "abstracting," and allows for an enriched and informative representation of the item. It does not imply, however, that an Item Level scope and content note needs to be more lengthy than those at higher levels.
CONTRIBUTORSAt the Item Level, individual contributors may be especially significant. If an item uses a non-specific phrase to indicate the contributor, such as "presented by," then enter the phrase exactly as it appears on the item.
Individual oral history interviews
Write an objective note describing the general content, nature, and scope of the oral history interview. Scope and Content Note may include, but is not limited to:
Photographs and other graphic materials
Write an objective narrative summary of the content, meaning, or iconography of a single item. Information that places the material in a proper context and conjectural statements may be included.
Original captions for graphic materials
The original caption found on a photograph or other graphic materials may also be included in Scope and Content Note. Introduce the caption with the phrase "Original caption", followed by a colon, a space, then the caption title. In this instance, an incomplete sentence is acceptable.
In transcription of the original caption, generally do not complete abbreviated words or names. If it is otherwise difficult to understand, fill in the whole name or word, enclosing the additional letters in square brackets.
Moving image materials (motion pictures and videorecordings)
Write a narrative summary of the content of the motion picture film or videorecording to give the researchers a good idea of what to expect when they view the work. Include information about the work's genre (e.g., documentary, comedy, or drama), and about persons, geographic locations, scenes, and activities depicted in the work.
Content titles for moving image materials
The titles of individual parts of moving image materials described at the Item Level, especially the content titles of motion pictures and videorecordings, may be included in Scope and Content Note.
If known, include information about the authorship and the duration of items. Describe the authorship information after the title. Duration information follows the title or the authorship statement (if there is one).
Write an objective summary of the content of a sound recording (other than one that consists entirely or predominantly of music).
Content titles for sound recordings
The titles of individual parts of sound recordings may also be included in Scope and Content Note. If known, include information about the authorship and the duration of items. Describe the authorship information after the title. Duration information follows the title or the authorship statement (if there is one).
CARTOGRAPHIC MATERIALS AND ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS AND PLANS
Write an objective summary of the nature or scope of a single cartographic item or architectural drawing or plan, making special mention of unusual or unexpected features of the item.
Table of Contents
Lifecycle Data Requirements Guide