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Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)


Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) was officially approved by the Society of American Archivists as an SAA standard in March 2004, following review by its Standards Committee, its Technical Subcommittee for Descriptive Standards, and by the general archival community.

DACS is an output-neutral set of rules for describing archives, personal papers, and manuscript collections, and can be applied to all material types. It is the U.S. implementation of international standards (i.e., ISAD(G) and ISAAR(CPF)) for the description of archival materials and their creators.

As a replacement for Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts (APPM), DACS guides archivists and catalogers in creating robust descriptive systems and descriptive records. DACS extends the skeletal rules for archival materials that comprise chapter 4 of AACR2. It provides both specific rules for describing archives and illustrates how these rules might be implemented in MARC and EAD format. It includes crosswalks to these and other standards.

Archivists and catalogers can use DACS to describe archival materials at any level of specificity, from the collection to the item level. DACS includes an overview of archival description (including the requirements for effective multilevel description), outlines the elements that must be included at different levels of description, and describes how those elements should be implemented. 

In addition, DACS provides specific guidance in describing creators of archival material, constructing archival authority records, and recording forms of names.  DACS may also be used in conjunction with other standards to treat aspects of description unique to specific media types. 

DACS is available from the Society of American Archivists. To purchase, click here


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