[Archivesspace_Users_Group] archival object vs. instance?

Maura Carbone mauraa at brandeis.edu
Fri May 15 14:05:47 EDT 2015

Hi Maureen,
To follow up on that (as a non-archivist), would you recommend then not
doing something like a nested Box1-> items in box1 etc.? Something like


I don't actually create finding aids, but I am now curious!


On Fri, May 15, 2015 at 1:55 PM, Callahan, Maureen <
maureen.callahan at yale.edu> wrote:

>  Hi Matt,
>  I would encourage you to think about encoding differently.
>  An archival object is similar to what’s considered a unit of description
> in DACS and a component in EAD. “Level” is an attribute that tells you
> something about that unit of description — it is associated with levels of
> granularity in recordkeeping, and has NOTHING to do with boxes and folders.
> Setting level=‘box’ or level=‘folder’ would be an error, and an unfortunate
> conflation of groups of records and the physical wrappers that contain
> them. Please don’t do this.
>  When you create an archival object, you’re creating a description of
> evidence from the past, regardless of its physicality. This is why you can
> associate a digital OR physical instance of it. Indeed, the same archival
> object may be just digital, physical across different instances, or digital
> and physical. I like that ArchivesSpace has separated description from
> instantiation.
>  Maureen
>  On May 15, 2015, at 12:18 PM, Matthew J Gorzalski <mGorzalski at lib.siu.edu>
> wrote:
>   This is difficult to explain in an email but here it goes…
>  I’m having trouble understanding the relationship between archival
> object and “instance” as it pertains to creating a finding aid content
> list.  The confusion stems from my familiarity with Archon’s
> straightforward parent-child relationship hierarchy, which uses established
> arrangement terminology.  Depending on the collection, creating a series,
> box, folder, etc. is simply a matter of selecting that option in Archon’s
> Level/Container menu and adjusting the parent-child relationships from
> there.
>  In ASpace, as I understand it, I first need to create an archival object
> and select the level of description.  If it is just a box list, I select
> “file” for box, title the box, and make the Component Unique Identifier
> “Box 1.”  But then I need to go to the “instance” menu and here is where I
> actually designate the container type as box, but I’m really just called in
> Box 1 for a second time in a different menu.  This seems redundant to me,
> because in the “archival object” data I’ve already called it Box 1 and
> given it a title.  Perhaps the interface could be simplified if the
> Archival Object, Instance, and Date menus were redesigned/merged so that
> you can create your archival object and designate the container type,
> titles, and dates right up front instead of having to scroll to the bottom
> for “instance.”  Container type, container title, and dates are the most
> important fields and the other menus like extent, agents, subjects etc. are
> added value but not critical in a box/folder list.
>  University Archivist
>  MAIL CODE 6632
>  mgorzalski at lib.siu.edu
>  P: 618/453-2225
>  F: 618/453-3440
>  lib.siu.edu
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Maura Carbone
Digital Initiatives Librarian
Brandeis University
Library and Technology Services
(781) 736-4659
415 South Street, (MS 017/P.O. Box 549110)
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
email: mauraa at brandeis.edu
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