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Archives/Special Collections : How Are Archival Materials Organized?

This is a general introduction to archives/special collections. For information specific to the University of New Orleans Special Collections see that guide.

How Are Archival Materials Organized?

Archival materials are typically organized into fonds (or collections, in the United States).  A fonds is the entire body of records of an organization, family, or individual that have been created and accumulated as the result of an organic process. Each fonds is kept separately from other fonds to prevent the records from becoming intermingled and disorganized.  Fonds are then sub-divided in a hierarchical structure consisting of "series," "sub-series," "files," and "items."

A typical fonds might look like:

Diagram of a fonds