NHPRC Update: Record Group Roundup

When migrating the finding aids into the new archives management system, SKCA, the Manuscript Collections and the University Archives Collections each had their own unique challenges. The Manuscripts Collections are all created by different groups and people, and although they might be related by subject or geographic area, they are organized separately from each other. On the other hand, the University Archives collections were all created by the same creator – Iowa State University – and are organized by record series in a way that reflects the structure of the University – colleges, departments, centers, etc.

This can be seen in the numbers assigned to the University Archives collections. They follow a format of #/#/# (sometimes this is 4 or 5 numbers).

The first number is for the college or administrative unit, the second number is for the department, and any numbers after that are for the sub-group – equivalent to a series in a Manuscript Collection.

For example, let’s take a look at RS 9/10, the record group for the Department of Animal Ecology. The first number is a 9 because this department is in the College of Agriculture and Life Science. News clippings about the Department of Animal Ecology have the record series number 9/10/0/0, because 0/0 is the subgroup number that is always used for news clippings.

When browsing by record group on our website, this is how department records are currently displayed:

Listing of subgroups on the current website

University Archives finding aids were previously created at the sub group level, (I.E. RS 9/10/0/5 above).  This meant that there could be multiple finding aids for records from the same department. Additionally, only sub-groups that had a finding aid were listed on the website, so although the sub-groups without finding aids were all open for research, researchers had to come in to the archives to find out that they existed.

SKCA is able to link information about everything from the same department together, so that everything related to RS 9/10 is now in one finding aid.

You can see in the screenshot below the full list of sub groups that actually exist for the Department of Animal Ecology, which we are now able to provide at least basic information about if there is not a box listing. These were always available for use, but now they will be much easier for researchers to find.

This is how the records for the Department of Animal Ecology will look in SKCA:

Finding aid for 9/10 in SKCA


The information about the department and the materials is at the top, and then information about each sub-group can be seen by scrolling down, as shown here:

Listings of record groups in the finding aid for RS 9/10


Alternatively, by clicking on the specific sub-group in left hand menu, you can view the information about just that material, such as the Alumni newsletters seen here:

The alumni newsletter sub-group for 9/10

The related resources section includes clickable links to the papers of faculty members or records for research programs related to this department that have their own separate finding aid.

It will be exciting how much more of the University records will be find-able online as a result of the new system! Stay tuned for more information about when SKCA will be going live and the features it will have.



This project has been generously funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

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