The series system is a method of describing records and their contexts of creation and management over time (Describing Archives in Context: A guide to Australasian practice, p2). This provides archive users with administrative and recordkeeping context for the records that they research, and also provides a means by which an archive can control and track records.
What is a series?
A series is a group of records that was created, controlled and maintained using the same system of arrangement. The system of arrangement of the records is the key identifying factor for a series.
A series may be recorded by a single agency, by successive agencies, or by several agencies at the same time.
Identifying a series
Series identification involves identifying those records created and controlled using the same system of arrangement. This system of arrangement could be (but is not limited to):
• annual single number, e.g. nn/yyyy
• single number, e.g. nnnnn
• two or three-tiered numerical, e.g. nn/nn/nnnn (where the number in the tiers may be a code for a specific activity)
• chronological (e.g. for a minutes series)
Identifying whether file prefixes affect the system of control is also important.
It is important to identify and document relationships between series, e.g. predecessor/successor series, controlling/controlled series, and series related because of function or activities documented. Identification and documentation of these relationships are essential in preserving record meaning, evidential value and accessibility through time, therefore providing archive users with adequate contextual information to be able to select, use, understand and trust records (Describing Archives in Context: A guide to Australasian practice, p19).
If no system of arrangement is apparent, or you are unsure about the series, email Collection Management Services, providing a description of the records. If you are able to provide a listing of the records and scans of some of the records, this will help Collection Management Services Archivists to provide you with advice. You may be contacted for further information and in some cases it may be necessary to arrange a visit by a Collection Management Services Archivist to view the records before advice can be provided.
How to register a series
Before you submit series registration paperwork, check your agency’s documentation about previous transfers and search the online archival catalogue, ArchivesSearch, to see whether the records have already been registered and to identify any other series that may be relevant.
It is important to ensure that the records are not duplicates or incomplete filing.
Information to include on a series registration form, as applicable:
• date range during which these records were being created
• a description of the system of arrangement and control, and the range of control symbols
• the records management system used to generate the records, e.g. Objective, RecFind, TRIM
• predecessor or successor relationships to other record series
• controlling or controlled relationships to other record series, e.g. whether the records control other records (e.g. they are a register or index) or are controlled by another series of records
• the agency/ies that created the records (agency recording) and the date range during which each agency was creating the records
• the agency responsible for the records and the date from which the agency began to be responsible for the records
• a brief description of what the records are, their purpose, and what they record
• the disposal schedule/s used to sentence the records as permanent
• a description of the physical format and characteristics of the records, if that information is significant to their use.
The preferred format for series titles is:
• Type of records, system of arrangement – agency creating
e.g. ‘Objective’ files, annual single number series with ‘SR’ prefix – State Records of South Australia
e.g. Minutes – State Records Council.
Collection Management Services may request further information and in some cases it may be necessary to arrange a visit by a Collection Management Services Archivist to view the records before series advice can be provided. When the series has been registered in the archival database, a Government Record Series (GRS) number will be issued.