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PROVguide 66: PROV’s Archival Control Model

Records Information – PROV’s Archival Control ModelProvguide66 image

About the model

The Archival Control Model (ACM) of Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is based on the archival principles of provenance and original order. The PROV model is derived from the Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) model, developed for use in the Commonwealth Archives Office (now National Archives of Australia).

The principle of provenance involves establishing the administrative context in which records were created and used. The provenance of records includes their original creators and users, and subsequent administrators who were responsible for the recordkeeping system in which the records were kept. Knowing who created the records and why assists researchers to assess the significance of the archives.

The principle of preserving the original order of records relates to the relationships between individual record items. It involves maintaining records in the arrangement in which they were when in active use, so that the evidence of government decisions and action is preserved. For this reason records are not rearranged or described according to their subject matter.

Both these principles aim to allow archival documents to be used by researchers with their original context fully intact and with evidence of their relationship to their creators and users and to other documents preserved. Maintaining the integrity of archival documents in this way provides researchers with the opportunity to interpret correctly their meaning and significance.

Components of the model

Public Record Office Victoria’s Archival Control Model consists of hierarchically related components of information: Functions, Groups, Agencies, Series, Consignments, Units and Items. Physical Items and Units can be ordered for viewing in one of our reading rooms. Digital Items can be viewed online. The other components help you with your research by putting the records in context. The components of the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) model are as follows.

Victorian Function (VF)

Our list of Functions is similar to a subject index or thesaurus. Functions describe the role and administrative activities of government. Function information in the PROV model tells you which Agencies have created records about that Function.

For example, the main Agencies responsible for the function of registering inquests (VF 43) Inquests (registration) are:

  • Chief Secretary’s Department (VA 475), until 1869,
  • Registrar-General’s Department (VA 2889), from 1869 to 1873,
  • Office of the Registrar-General and the Office of Titles (VA 862), from 1873 to 1988, and
  • State Coroner’s Office (VA 2807), from 1988 to the present.

Victorian Record Group (VRG)

A Record Group brings together Agencies that have created records documenting similar functions.

They may be Agencies:

Victorian Agency (VA)

An Agency is an administrative unit that has or has had responsibility for the provision of at least one aspect of government administration. Each Agency generally has an independent recordkeeping system. Information in the PROV model will help you to understand the Agency as a creator of records.

For example, VA 2807 State Coroner’s Office.

Victorian Public Record Series (VPRS)

Series information helps you to understand the context of records – why, when and by whom they were created. A Series is a group of records which are recorded or maintained by the same Agency (or Agencies) and which:

  • are in the same numerical, alphabetical, chronological or other identifiable sequence; or
  • result from the same accumulation or filing process, perform the same function or may be of similar physical shape or information content.

For example, VPRS 24 Inquest Deposition Files.

Consignment

A Consignment comprises record Items belonging to a single record Series and transferred to the custody of PROV as part of the one accession. A Consignment may comprise the whole or only part of a Series.

Each Consignment is given an alpha numeric Id number consisting of an alpha code to indicate the retention status (P =Permanent, T = Temporary, U = Unappraised) and a sequential number to differentiate it from other Consignments within the Series. For example, P0000, P0001, U0002. The Consignment Id number is quoted in conjunction with the Series Id number. For example, VPRS24/P0000.

Unit

A Unit is a storage container used by PROV to store physical records and to provide physical control over them. A Unit may be a box, bundle, plan press drawer, tube etc, containing individual record Items. A Unit may also be a single volume. Each Unit has a physical location within a PROV repository. You can order Units for viewing in one of our Reading Rooms.

The Unit Id number is quoted in conjunction with the Series Id and the Consignment Id. For example, for Unit 478 from Consignment P0000 of VPRS 24, the Unit Id is quoted as VPRS24/P0000/478.

Item

An item is a single recordkeeping object.

A physical Item could be a group of folios fastened together to form a file, a single volume, card, map, photograph, film, sound recording, computer tape or any other document. Within a Series there may be only one physical record Item or there may be several thousand or more. You can order physical Items for viewing in one of our reading rooms.

The identifier for a physical Item may be a file number, a name or a combination of both. For example, VPRS24/P0000/478 1885/145 or VPRS28/P0003/1453 196/612 JANE ADAM.

A digital Item is a logical collection or accumulation of digital records (a recordkeeping file). A digital Item contains recordkeeping information about the records linked to it. Within a Series there may be only one digital Item or there may be several thousand or more. Digital Items can be viewed online.

A digital Item is identified by an agency-assigned identifier that is unique within the series to which the Item belongs. A digital Item is uniquely identified within the PROV collection by the combination of  the Victorian Agency (VA) number of the agency which created or maintained the Item, and the Victorian Public Record Series (VPRS) number of the series to which the Item belongs, and the Item identifier.

Sub-Item

A sub-Item is part of an Item.

A digital sub-Item is a single record within a digital Item. A digital sub-Item may contain one or more documents that together form the record of an action or event. For example, a digital sub-Item may contain the agenda, minutes and tabled documents of a meeting. Digital sub-Items and their content can be viewed online.

A digital sub-Item is identified an agency-assigned sub-Item identifier that is unique within the series to which the sub-Item belongs. A digital sub-Item is uniquely identified within the PROV collection by the combination of the Victorian Agency (VA) number of the agency which created or maintained the sub-Item, the Victorian Public Record Series (VPRS) number of the series to which the sub-Item belongs, the identifier of the Item in which the sub-Item is contained, and the sub-Item identifier.

PROV does not currently maintain information at this level for physical Items.

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