Rules and sources for creating index terms
- Appropriate index terms improve intellectual access to your archival descriptions. These index terms (access points) need to be created using agreed standards.
- The Archives Hub recommends that you include the name of creator as the minimum access point. If the name of creator is not known, then include a subject term for the creator's 'class of person', using one of the recommended thesauri.
- We recommend adding more index terms to your descriptions, as this encourages researchers to browse by names, subjects and places and find your materials.
- The EAD Editor provides you with a means to create index terms by simply filling in text boxes with the requisite information.
Rules for creating index terms
Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) is a bibliographic standard widely used in libraries. Useful for personal, corporate, and place names (see also TGN below).
The National Council on Archives standard for creating access points for names is the NCA Rules. Useful for personal, family, corporate, and place names.
Note: The Archives Hub requires a particular implementation of NCA Rules:
- The Hub does not support cross-references. Only use the preferred form of a name as an index term.
- The Hub does not support grid references or latitude & longitude in place names.
Sources for index terms
Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is an international standard, commonly used in UK libraries and archives. Many of the Hub's contributors use LCSH as their source of subject index terms.
- Library of Congress Authorities: LCSH subjects and established forms of names
- Library of Congress catalogue: includes MARC records, which are useful for viewing the structure of LCSH subdivisions; search using "Subject browse" for names and places as well as subject
Thesaurus of Geographic Names
National Register of Archives
The National Register of Archives (NRA) is maintained by the The National Archives. The NRA name authority files are based on the names (plus some additional information such as a personal epithet) of individuals, families, and organisations that have created records held in the UK. Useful for personal, family, and corporate names.
UK Archival Thesaurus
The UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT) is a a controlled vocabulary which has been created for the archive sector in the United Kingdom. It is no longer being actively developed, but it does include a large proportion of UNESCO subject headings as well as headings from a number of other sources, including Library of Congress Subject Headings. .
The Unesco Thesaurus is is a controlled vocabulary developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and is commonly used in UK archives. The Unesco Thesaurus is an international standard, and is useful for subject index terms, and also for place names at country level. The printed version of the thesaurus includes helpful guidelines on how to index documents.
- Unesco Thesaurus website (maintained by the University of London Computer Centre)
- Unesco Thesaurus search form (on UNESCO's website)
- UNESCO-THESAURUS: Unesco Thesaurus discussion list
- AAT: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- ERIC: US Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) Thesaurus
- HASSET: Humanities and Social Sciences Electronic Thesaurus
- MeSH: Medical Subject Headings
- TGM II: Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II: Genre and Physical Characteristic Terms (in EAD this has the source attribute value "gmgpc" rather than 'TGM II')