This glossary of terms is intended to help you understand the words and phrases we have used in the catalogue. Where a term relates to a specific collection i.e. archives or natural history it has been noted in the definition.

Access conditions - In archive collections this field will tell you what conditions apply to the particular item you wish to see, if there are any, for example you may need to handle with care, or the item may be too fragile to produce for research.

Access restriction - In archive collections if something is marked 'Access Restricted' it means that you will not automatically be able to look at the item in question because it contains sensitive information of some kind, for example hospital records, court records, school records etc. Contact Oldham Local Studies and Archives ( for more information.

Access status - In archive collections this will be either 'Open' or 'Access Restricted'. See access restricted for further details.

Accession - The process of taking legal and physical custody of a collection of records and other materials and to formally document their receipt.

Accession number - In Gallery Oldham collections this is the unique number allocated to each item.

Accrual - In archive collections materials added to an existing collection

AdminHistory - the administrative history relating to the collection you are looking at. This is found in the 'collection level' (see below) entry of the collection and provides information about how e.g. the business came into being, or the biographical history of the individual to whom the collection relates etc.

Appraised - In archive collections appraisal is the process of determining whether records and other materials have permanent (archival) value. Appraisal may be done at the collection, creator, series, file, or item level. Appraisal can take place prior to donation and prior to physical transfer, at or after accessioning. The basis of appraisal decisions may include a number of factors, including the records' provenance and content, their authenticity and reliability, their order and completeness, their condition and costs to preserve them, and their intrinsic value.

Arrangement - In archive collections the way the catalogue has been arranged in terms of where the items are in the hierarchy (see 'level' below), e.g.
AAL King Street United Reformed Church
AAL/1 Session Minutes
AAL/2 Managers' Minutes
AAL/3 Registers
AAL/4 Roll Books
AAL/5 Disjunction Certificates
AAL/6 Financial records (including reports and accounts)
AAL/7 Correspondence
AAL/8 Plans

Class(ified)-Name - In natural history records the scientific name of the specimen is recorded in this field.

Class - In the local studies collection a unique set of letters and numbers designated according to a classification scheme, by which an item in the local studies collection is labeled, identified in a catalogue, and may be located.

Collection - In Archives this is a distinct group of records that form a whole because they were generated by the same creator e.g. a business, a hospital, an individual etc. Gallery Oldham use Collection to group objects that are related in terms of subject or theme as well as by significant donor.

Collection level description - In archive collections the overall description for a collection. This will often provide an administrative history and overall covering dates.

Common-Name - In natural history this field records the English name of the specimen

CreatorName - this field records the name of the organisation or the individuals responsible for the original creation, accumulation and maintenance of the records

Extent - In archive collections how many items there are in a particular entry on the catalogue i.e. 1 vol, 3 papers, 2 booklets, 2 boxes etc.

Field Collection-Place - This term is used for natural history to show the exact place where the specimen was found.

Field-Collector - This term is used for natural history to give the name of the finder.

Format - In archive collections whether the material is e.g. a document, a volume, a cd etc.

Gallery Oldham - Gallery Oldham has been collecting artworks and objects since 1883 and is still collecting today. The current collections include social and industrial history items, works of art, natural history and geological specimens, archaeological artefacts as well as a number of photographs and books and pamphlets.

Level - In archive collections the level where an archive can be found in the hierarchical structure of the catalogue. Below is an example of this hierarchy:

Collection - the top-most level e.g. Oldham Coliseum Records.

Section level - a sub division of a collection according to administrative sub-divisions e.g. corporate records, property records, financial records etc.

Sub Section level - only ever below section If necessary this is a subdivision of Section

Series level - directly below collection/section/sub section e.g. minutes, statements of accounts, share ledgers etc. Series can contain either sub series or items.

Sub series level- only ever below a series; e.g. directors minutes. This can contain further sub series, files or items.

Item level - a single unit, which may be the lowest level of description; an indivisible unit or can contain other smaller units that are described, e.g. a file of correspondence that contains a number of letters.

For example:
(Collection) COL Records of the Oldham Coliseum
(Section) COL/2 Oldham Repertory Theatre Company
(Sub Section) COL/2/5 Productions
(Series) COL/2/5/5 1941
(Sub Series) COL/2/5/5/13 Grief Goes Over (Item) COL/2/5/5/13/1 Programme

Object-Production-Date - When this appears on a natural history record this refers to the date when the specimen was found.

Oldham Local Studies and Archives - Collects, preserves and makes available the archives, history and heritage of Oldham Metropolitan Borough. The archive collection includes the unique records generated by the same creator e.g. a business, a hospital, an individual etc. The Local Studies collection is made up of printed material such as maps, photographs, local history books, family history sources, etc.

RefNo - In Archives this is the collection reference number that has been allocated to a collection, it is unique and is the first element of all the items within that collection.

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