The National Archives Catalog


Title

Mandatory Repeatable Data Type Authority Level Available A/V Only Public Element
Yes No Variable Character Length (700) None Record Group
Collection
Series
File Unit
Item
No Yes



Definition: The name assigned to the record group, collection, or archival materials.
Purpose: Provides identifying information and serves as an access point to retrieve record groups, collections, and archival materials. Title serves as one of the main identifiers for record groups, collections, and archival materials.
Relationship: Title is the element on which all the other Intellectual, Physical, and Media Elements are dependent. To have any other element, Title must be created. This relationship is assumed in all other relationships. This element is independent, but all of the Title Elements are dependent on it.

Guidance:

GENERAL

At the Record Group, Collection, and Series Level, titles are almost always created by NARA. At the File Unit Level titles are usually assigned by the creator and often appear on the archival materials themselves. At the Item Level titles can be formal (specific bibliographic titles), creator-assigned, or NARA-assigned.

Use of Acronyms

If an acronym is used in Title, define the full term, followed by the acronym in parentheses. If an acronym is used and defined in Title, it can be used in other data elements without defining it again.

Records of the Proposed Sale of Securities (PSS) System


RECORD GROUP TITLES

Enter a title that names the record group following the rules below. Use initial capital letters. Do not end a title with a period. Be precise and brief. Do not use unexplained acronyms or unknown organizational designations.

Do not include dates in a title. Dates belong in Inclusive Start Date or Inclusive End Date. It is necessary to have separate elements for dates and title because they have different values and different search techniques. Although titles and dates have separate elements, they can be displayed together to form a unique header for a record group.

Use the phrase "Records of" and then insert the name of the entity comprising the record group.

Records of the War Labor Policies Board



Records of the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement



Records of the Treasurer of the United States

When creating a title for a general record group, use the phrase "General Records of" and then insert the name of the entity comprising the general record group.

General Records of the Department of Commerce


COLLECTION TITLES

Use initial capital letters. Do not end a title with a period. Be precise and brief. Do not use unexplained acronyms or unknown organizational designations. Do not use "Undescribed Collection," "Unprocessed Collection," or "Miscellaneous Collection" as a collection title.

Do not include dates in a title. Dates belong in Inclusive Start Date or Inclusive End Date. It is necessary to have separate elements for dates and titles because they have different values and different search techniques. Though titles and dates have separate elements, they can be displayed together to form a unique header for a collection.

Organizational Materials

When creating a title for a collection of archival materials created as a direct result of the administrative or organizational activity of the creator and maintained according to its original provenance, use the phrase "Records of" followed by the name of the organization. If the archival materials were created by a White House organization, indicate the name of the administration in parentheses at the end of the title.

Records of the American Heritage Foundation



Records of the American National Red Cross



Records of the White House Office of Counsel to the President (Carter Administration)



Records of the Advisor to the President on American Jewish Affairs (Carter Administration)

Personal Papers

When creating a title for a collection of personal papers, use the person's name and the term "Papers". Enter the person's name followed by the term "Papers", or the term "Papers of" followed by the person's name. Enter the person's name in direct order: first name, middle name, last name. If the collection has been formed by a number of individuals in the same family, use the family name followed by the term "Family Papers." If a collection of family papers has one predominant person, use the person's name followed by the term "Family Papers."

Lou Henry Hoover Papers



Rose Wilder Lane Papers



Papers of Burke Marshall



Roosevelt Family Papers



Dwight D. Eisenhower Family Papers

Artificial Collections

When creating a title for a collection of archival materials that has been formed around a person, organization, subject, or activity, or that has been gathered from a common source, use the name of the person, organization, subject, activity, or common source followed by the term "Collection."

American Film Institute Collection

[For the collection of films gathered by the AFI, not created as part of its business activity.]

Michigan Historical Commission Collection



John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection



Ernest Hemingway Collection


PRELIMINARY DESCRIPTION TITLES

Enter the title provided at the time of transfer by the creator for the archival materials . Preliminary Titles do not require a records type, and can include unexplained acronyms. More than one preliminary description can have the same title. The creator name can be included if it is part of the title provided by the creator.


SERIES TITLES

Enter a title that names the archival materials following the rules below. In creating a title, draw from information available from the earlier stages of the records lifecycle. Do not use the term "Untitled" as a title for archival materials. Avoid the term "miscellaneous." Use initial capital letters. Do not end a title with a period. Be precise and brief. Do not use unexplained acronyms or unknown organizational designations.

Do not include dates or creator names in a title. Dates belong in Inclusive Start Date or Inclusive End Date. Creator names belong in Creating Individual or Creating Organization. It is necessary to have separate elements for dates and title because they have different values and different search techniques. Though titles, dates, and creators have separate elements, they can be displayed together to form a unique header for archival materials.

Include the Frequency, Function, or Subject Matter

The title may include identifying attributes, such as frequency (annual or monthly), function, or subject matter.

Annual Narrative and Statistical Reports



Quarterly Status Reports



Letters of Resignation and Declination of Federal Office



Reports, Journals, and Memorandums of Scouts and Marches

Include a Records Type

The title may include a term selected from the General Records Type Authority List or the Specific Records Type Thesaurus, such as memorandums, registers, indexes, minutes, reports, letters, files, etc. At the Series Level, the specific records type term usually will be plural.

Do not use a physical term like "prints" or "negatives" in the title. Instead, choose an appropriate intellectual records type like "photographs" or "portraits." Terms from the General Media Type Authority List, the Specific Media Type Authority List, or Process Authority List are generally considered physical.

Letters Received



Letter Requesting Certificates of Identity



Photographs of Army Generals



Portraits of Agency Officials



World War II Aerial Photographs and Photographic Images

For additional information on identifying records types, see General Records Type and Specific Records Type.

Names and Positions

Archival materials created by a person through his or her role as part of an organization are considered organizational materials and are assigned a Creating Organization. Note that while the series title can include the name or position of an individual who was the primary contributor of the materials, the creator of the series is the organization which accumulates the materials, not the individual within the organization who contributed the materials.

If these organizational materials were generated by a particular person or through a particular position in an organization, then the title should include the person's name or position. In this case, the person who generated the materials (as part of an organization) is considered a contributor, and their name belongs in Personal Contributor and their role in Personal Contributor Type.

Reading Files of the Deputy Executive Director

[The series was created by the Federal Trade Commission.]

Orders and Special Orders Issued by Major General Winfield Scott

[The series was created by the War Department.]

General Correspondence of the Forest Supervisor

[This series was created by the Department of Agriculture. U.S. Forest Service.]

Albert Einstein's Letters

[This series was created by the Department of the Navy. Bureau of Ordnance. Albert Einstein is the contributor, not the creator.]

Publication Titles

If the archival materials consist of issues of a single journal or other serial publication, use the title of the journal. Do not use italics, quotation marks, or other means to highlight the title.

Journal of Agricultural Research



Journal of Research of the National Bureau of Standards

[The agency name is part of the journal title.]

If the archival materials consist of a number of serials, refer to the content or purpose of the serials. For example:

Journals Used in Foreign Relations Work



Publications from Black Churches

In this case, the various serial titles may be listed individually in Scope and Content Note.

Index and Register Titles

For archival materials that serve as indexes or registers to other archival materials, the title should include a reference to the materials being indexed or registered.

Name Index to Letters Received



Register of Inspection Reports Submitted



Index to Petitions Filed in the Fugitive Slave Petition Book

Original Titles

Original titles are the titles provided by the creator for the archival materials. They are sometimes called agency-supplied titles. If the archival materials have been known by another title designated by the creator, and if researchers are likely to search for the materials by that title, enter the original title in Other Title. Explain in General Note.

Classified Titles

If an agency-supplied title is classified, do not enter the classified title in Title or anywhere else in the description. Create a Series title and enter it in Title. Explain that the title is a NARA-supplied replacement for the classified title in General Note.

Title - Operations Files
General Note - "Operations Files" is the NARA-supplied replacement for the classified agency title.

[Classified Series title is "Files on CIA Operations in Slobovia."]

Security Classifications

If a classification status, such as top-secret or confidential, is part of an agency-supplied title, then it should be part of Title. In other words, there may be two distinct series transferred by an agency, one called "Top Secret Correspondence" and one called "General Correspondence."

The retention of the agency's use of classification terms is important, as it reflects the agency's original filing system and the relationships between different filing components and the materials as they were used and maintained in the agency. However, classification terms must not be added when NARA provides a supplied title. For example, if an agency transferred a classified series of records called "project files," it should not be titled "Secret Project Files," or if a series of materials called "project files" that have been declassified was transferred, it should not be titled "Formerly Secret Project Files." The classification status for the archival materials is indicated in Security Classification, as part of the Access Restriction Elements.

Inclusion of terms relating to classification in NARA-supplied titles would indicate the access restrictions of the materials at NARA, which can change over time, and might cause confusion to the user as to how the materials were originally organized, identified, and maintained by the creating agency.

Previously Created Titles

If the archival materials have been described in an existing finding aid, determine if the existing title is appropriate. If necessary, create a new title and place the existing title in Other Title. If the archival materials have been described in more than one existing finding aid and the titles conflict, determine which is the most appropriate for Title and enter the others in Other Title. If none is appropriate, create a new title and enter the others in Other Title. Explain in General Note.


FILE UNIT TITLES

If it is known, enter the original title (the title provided by the creator) following the rules below. The original title may be written on a folder or indicated during accessioning.

If dates are part of an original title, then they should be included as part of the File Unit title. The dates may also be indicated in the Coverage Date Elements.

Sometimes the archivist makes modifications to the original title of a file unit in order to provide important information about the archival materials. This information should be placed in brackets. For example, a Presidential Library may describe an empty folder and then place the word "empty" in brackets as part of the title. Or, a group of files may have been given a common title by the creator and the archivist may provide an identifier in brackets to create a unique title for each file.

If the original title contains acronyms, best practice is to spell out the acronym in brackets after the acronym. Describers are encouraged, but not required, to do this.

News clippings regarding ACOG [Association of Central Oklahoma Governments]

Other NARA-made modifications, such as added dates or subjects, should not be placed in Title but in the appropriate fields.

If the original title is classified, do not enter it in Title or anywhere else in the description. Create a File Unit title using the Series title guidance. Place the NARA-supplied File Unit title in brackets [ ]. Explain that the title is a NARA-supplied replacement for the classified title in General Note.

Enemies List [empty]



Inflation Sourcebook [1]



Inflation Sourcebook [2]



Title - [Reports on Weapon System Design]
General Note - "Reports on Weapon System Design" is the NARA-supplied replacement for the classified agency title.

[Classified File Unit title is "Reports on Development of the Light Saber Weapon."]

If the original title of a file unit is incorrect or vague, enter a corrected title in brackets in Title, and the original title in Other Title. Explain in General Note.

If there is no original title, create a title using the guidance for series titles, and place the created title in brackets.


ITEM TITLES

If one exists, enter the formal title following the rules below. Formal titles are the specific bibliographic titles written on individual items, such as the title of a movie or book. When transcribing a formal title, enter it exactly as it appears on the item.

Triumph of the Will



Let There Be Light



Facts About Fallout



Manual for Army Cooks

If dates are a part of the formal title, then include the dates as a part of the item title. The dates should also be indicated in the Coverage Date Elements or Production Date, as appropriate.

Do not include a subtitle in Title, even if it appears on the item. Place it in Subtitle.

If the formal title of an item actually is "Untitled," as some works of art are called, then the item title may be entered as "Untitled."

If the formal title of an item is incorrect or vague, enter a corrected title in Title and the formal title in Other Title. Explain in General Note. Variant or translated titles should also be entered in Other Title and explained in General Note.

Triumph of the Will



Title - La Revanche Des Francais Devant Verdun
Other Title - French Revenge Around Verdun

If there is no formal title, create a title that describes the function or subject matter of the item. If a caption is provided, it may be used. Best practice is to include a records type.

Unlike created titles at the File Unit Level, those at the Item Level should not be placed in brackets.

Certification of Physical Examination of Jacob Forsyth at Battle Mountain Sanitarium



Application by Thomas McCarthy for Admission to Western Branch Soldier's Home



Photograph of House on the Moqui Pueblo Reservation



Public Service Announcement about Fair Housing



Newsreel of the Building of the Hoover Dam

If the original title contains acronyms, best practice is to spell out the acronym in brackets after the acronym. Describers are encouraged, but not required, to do this.

Public Service Announcement regarding ACOG [American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists]

If a formal title is classified, do not enter it in Title or anywhere else in the description. Create an Item title using the Series title guidance. Do not place the NARA-supplied item title in brackets [ ]. Explain that the title is a NARA-supplied replacement for the classified title in General Note.

Title - Ruritania Nuclear Programs
General Note - "Ruritania Nuclear Programs" is the NARA-supplied replacement for the classified agency title.

[Classified Item title is "Plutonium Production in Ruritania."]

Note that photograph captions are not generally considered formal titles. Create a title, and place the caption in Scope and Content Note.

Title - Photograph of Three U.S. Senators on Fact-Finding Visit to Vietnam
Scope and Content Note - Original caption: Vietnam . . . Pausing for refreshment during their visit to Huu Thanh, a recently pacified village, three U.S. senators on President Richard Nixon's fact-finding committee drink from coconuts. From left to right are Senator Thomas J. McIntyre of New Hampshire, Senator Howard Cannon of Nevada and Senator George Murphy of California.


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