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Brown University Scholarly Resources


Last updated: July 30, 2018 rr/rlb/ke/rr; April 26, 2020 rr

  • Overview
  • Introduction
  • Definitions
  • Fixed field elements
  • Individual MARC fields
  • Sources used and/or cited
  • Additional Documentation


This document covers general procedures for cataloging archival resources using DACS and RDA descriptive standards in conjunction with MARC 21. Its primary goal is to cite applicable DACS and RDA rules in order to contextualize the Library’s archival holdings, facilitate academic research and ensure optimal discoverability.


The intention of this document is to provide guidance for cataloging archival resources, using two descriptive standards, DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) and RDA (Resource Description & Access). It attempts to match applicable DACS/RDA elements and instructions with MARC 21 (Machine Readable Cataloging) fields.

Regarding the establishment of names, titles, and subjects, it assumes knowledge of, and compliance with, the controlled vocabularies established in LCNAF (Library of Congress Name Authority File), LCSH (Library of Congress Subject headings), and genre vocabularies as appropriate.


Principle 1 of DACS states that “archival materials have traditionally been understood to consists of documents organically created, accumulated, and/or used by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved because of their continuing value. They most often consist of aggregates of documents (largely unpublished) and are managed as such, though archival institutions frequently hold discrete items that must be treated consistently within the institution’s descriptive system.”

RDA describes an archival resource as a “document or documents organically created, accumulated, or used by an agent in the course of the conduct of affairs and preserved because of their continuing value. The resource may be an aggregation of documents or it may be a discrete item. It may also be a collection acquired and assembled by an archival repository, individual, or other institution, that does not share a common provenance or origin but that reflects some common characteristic, for example, a particular subject, theme, or form.” (Glossary)

Fixed field elements (OCLC Workform)


Type: p [mixed mat.]

Blvl: c [collection]

Desc: i [ISBD]

Elvl: I [full level]

Form: [leave blank]

Rec stat: n [new]

Srce: d [other]

DtSt: i [inclusive date]

Dates [year] , [year]

Ctrl: a [archival]

MRec: [blank]

Lang: [lang. code]

Ctry: [country code]

Individual MARC fields

Please Refer to this Document.

Sources used and/or cited in this document


Library of Congress Names (


Library of Congress Subject Headings (


MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data (


OCLC, Bibliographic Formats and Standards (


RDA Toolkit (


Describing Archives: A Content Standard, 2nd ed. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2013. (See also



Additional documentation and training


Nimer, Cory. “Archival materials: Using RDA with DACS.” ALCTS webinar, May 30, 2012. Recording and slides,


Yale University Library Manuscript Cataloging Guidelines.