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How Records are Grouped

The most common unit of records is called a "series." A series of records were accumulated and used together for a specific purpose, during a distinct period of time, and the records in a series are usually arranged in a particular order.

For example, think of your financial statements at home and how you might use them each year to prepare your taxes. Perhaps you have kept them in a folder, and arranged them by year and then by the month of each report. This file might be a records series. It would have a different purpose and arrangement than other records series that you keep, for example: a file containing your childrens' or pets' certificates proving their vaccinations.

When an archival institution, such as the National Archives, contains records for not one but many large organizations, the records series are grouped together in larger units. These units, called "Record Groups" (RGs) at the National Archives, are designated according to the highest level of responsibility in an organization that created the records. Each RG has a number. For example, records series created by the National Park Service are located within Record Group 79.

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