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Essential elements

What should you expect to see in a catalogue entry?

Older catalogues may vary but in modern archival catalogues you should see the following for each description:

Reference number This is what you need to quote when requesting documents.
Title This is a just a broad overview of the contents.
Scope and content Here you find a more detailed description of the contents.
Dates These are the covering dates of the documents in the file. The documents will all have been created between two dates, though they may relate to events which occurred outside those dates. For example, a memoir written in 1924-5 might recollect World War One but its covering dates would still be 1924-1925.
Extent Here you will see how much material the description refers to – remember a description could refer to one sheet or several boxes so this is worth checking.
Level The level of description, for example series, file or item. This does not appear in all descriptions but the place in the hierarchy should always be clear.

Take a look at the description for the D.H. Lawrence subseries within E.M. Forster’s correspondence on Janus (EMF/18/311) and find all the elements.

Janus is an on-line catalogue shared by various repositories throughout Cambridge. You can navigate down the on-line catalogue by the underlined grey-blue numbers, and up the catalogue by the 'Home > Janus > Repositories > Participating Institutions > King's > KC...' line just under the blue banner bar.

You may find that there are further elements to some descriptions, for example at the fonds level you will usually see an 'administrative history'. This kind of additional information may be useful, as it can tell you about the provenance of a collection.

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