This glossary provides an overview of some of the terms you may come across when searching for records in our catalogue.

Level: The way our records appear in the catalogue reflects the structures that surrounded their creation. This is called "hierarchical description".

The most common levels in use in our catalogue are:

Collection: All the records created or accumulated by a person or corporate body e.g. the Collection of the United Africa Company (UAC).

Section: A group of records within a collection which relate to each other e.g. UAC Board: Corporate Records. This is usually only used for bigger collections.

Series: Documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they result from the same accumulation or filing process, or the same activity; have a particular format; or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt or use

Item: An individual record or file of records

Piece: Used where an item has component parts that have been catalogued e.g. a file of correspondence will be described at item level whereas an individual letter within that file would be described at piece level