Archival description encompasses the dual processes of cataloging
and production of finding aids.
Archival Finding Aids
Archival finding aids are detailed guides to primary source material
which provide fuller information than that normally contained
within cataloging records. The Library of Congress produces archival
descriptions of manuscripts in the Manuscript Division and the
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), Special
Materials Cataloging Division.
Manuscript Finding Aids
The Manuscript Division has prepared more than 1,600 registers
for its collections. Most include information on the provenance
and administration of the collection, an organizational or biographical
history or chronology, a scope and content note, a description
of the various series or groups of manuscripts in the collection,
and a container list. The container list normally describes the
contents of each container by folder title. Manuscript Division
finding aids are now being converted for use on the web. To date,
only a small percentage of the total has been made available in
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections
The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)
Program, provides free-of-charge cataloging of archives and manuscript
material to qualifying repositories and provides information concerning
access to all NUCMC cataloging since its beginnings in 1959.