Archives authorities provide valuable information about an entity’s background and history. This context helps place related archival material within a historical framework through the descriptions of its primary creators.


  1. Name(s)
  2. Descriptions
  3. Relationships
  4. Author
  5. Export

screenshot of authority record with callouts of five different sections


The main name displayed in a record is a controlled form of the name used in our library applications. Click on "Show/Hide All Variant Names" to view all forms documented, authorized, locally controlled and uncontrolled. Sources are identified for authorized forms. In the example below, "LCNAF" stands for Library of Congress Name Authority File.

screenshot of Albert Bickmore's name metadata

Uncontrolled names, such as historical forms of an institutional unit or variant name for a person, can be helpful in a search. Toggle the variant name section to view or hide all names used for an entity. When available, dates of use are associated with the name. This information can aid in research comprising historic documents.

screenshot of abstract information for American Museum of Natural History. Akeley Hall of African Mammals.


Descriptions provide important contextual information about an entity, placing it in time and space. Research, especially as it relates to archival material, is greatly enriched through the context under which the object of study was created. Biographical and Historical notes are often found in finding aids (a tool that places the materials in context by consolidating information about the collection). In the Library’s authority records, the descriptive information is further structured to provide other fields of data, such as chronologies, places and occupations.

Authors of descriptive content write objective accounts documenting the who, what, when, where, why and how in a concise manner. Longer notes contain inline citations with sources listed below the narrative in numeric order. The numeric citation within the narrative refers to the corresponding source, almost always a published resource. Below is an example from the Whitney South Sea Expedition record. The content has been condensed considerably in this screenshot to illustrate the several components available in Description.

Screenshot of the Whitney South Sea Expedition description section


The RELATIONSHIPS section contains curated lists of related Museum entities and resources providing an entry way into discoveries known and unknown. The connections among people, expeditions, exhibitions, departments, and much more, have the potential to tell a larger story than any one entity could. Enriched records may include dates and brief descriptive notes expanding on the role of the relationship.

Below is an example from AMNH Temporary Exhibition Tibetan Butter Sculpture. The content has been condensed considerably in this screenshot.

Screenshot of the Tibetan Butter Sculpture (Exhibition) relationship section


The name of the AUTHOR is credited to the primary writer, though a record may undergo several revisions by numerous people. Library staff may view more detailed notes about the changes made to a record.

Significant research and fact-checking are done by the AUTHOR of the record descriptions to provide accurate content. As institutional members of Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC), we uphold the Cooperative’s Ethos of delivering honest, transparent, and helpful context to users and are open to work with others to remediate errors, privacy concerns, or omissions.


All records are available in different formats for EXPORT. The metadata is written natively in Encoded Archival Context -- Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (EAC-CPF). Structured data facilitates interoperability. Visit the xEAC github page to learn more about the application.

Learn more about the Library’s adoption of the EAC-CPF metadata schema.