The National Archives Catalog

Topical Subject Reference

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


Definition: The topics represented in the archival materials.


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


Relationship: This element is independent.



Choose the appropriate topical subjects from the Topical Subject Thesaurus.

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.


Acid rain




Electric power


Electric power-plants


Medical care



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