Clean up: Instructions for accession identifier in accession records

Every accession record requires an unique accession number per local requirements. ArchivesSpace requires a value in the accession identifier field to save a record, which will greatly help in enforcing compliance for this field.

For the most part, our collections have accession numbers, though sometimes weird things happened. Most numbers look like this: 2014-18 or 92-113. There are a few variations with unit abbreviations as well as additional numbers or formatting.


Format accession numbers according to the following:

  • accession_number_1 = fiscal year (2014 or 72)
  • accession_number_2 = number of accession for the year, will be sequential
    • Add leading zeros to second part of number. In OpenRefine: “000”[0,3-length(value)] + value
  • accession_number_3 = Letter code for collecting units
    • We are developing a letter code so we can quickly identify that an accession belongs to a particular collecting unit. We used an EAD tag for this in the Beast, which won’t fly anymore.
  • accession_number_4 = use for additional memorabilia or photograph numbers (more on that in another post, it’s a headache)

If more than one accession number is listed for a record:

  • Keep the oldest number for the record
  • Create a new record for each additional number, using the same title information
  • Include other information only if you know it is the same for each accession, ex: all the same donor
  • Add “described in Accession [acc#]” to the general information note. This will signal that the only description we have is contained in the earlier record. (Obviously, this is lousy for documenting accessions, but it’s the best we can do!)

If there is no accession number:

  • Consult the excel spreadsheet where accession numbers are assigned. Use the acqdate and dateoffirstentry fields to narrow down to a fiscal year and see if you can match up the information with an accession number.
  • Consult paper accession files (set ordered by accession name) to see if you can match something up.
  • Check the physical boxes to see if an accession number is on them (most of our boxes only have a title on them with no identifying number, a personal pet peeve.)
  • If nothing can be found anywhere, give accession a new number.
    • Add “retroactively assigned” to the general information note so we’ll know this was a backlog accession.
    • Write the accession number on box 1 of the materials.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s