What do all those numbers associated with NARA records mean?
So have you ever wondered what all the numbers are that NARA associates with its records?
If you have checked the Archival Research Catalog recently you might have noticed that one of our numbers has a new name. The former Inventory Identifier has been renamed the Inventory Entry Number. We heard from several researchers who asked for the change because “entry number” is the term they commonly hear staff use.
Our records may also have declassification project numbers, accession numbers, records center transfer numbers, HMS/MLR entry numbers, record group numbers and other numbers. In ARC you can search for records by these numbers using the description identifier field found under the advanced search. Here is a brief primer on some of our most frequently used numbers:
Record Group (RG) number – A unique number assigned to each record group. A record group is a grouping created by NARA that comprises the records of a large organization, such as a Government bureau or independent agency. To search ARC by RG number, enter the RG number in the description identifier field and then select just the record group in the level of description filter. Click on “Search within” to search for series descriptions linked to that RG
Inventory Entry Number – A number used for archival materials described in an inventory or preliminary inventory of a Record Group or Collection. A basic archival finding aid, an inventory generally includes a brief administrative history of the organization(s) as well as series descriptions of their records.
Local Identifier – Local identifiers are created by local NARA units to identify particular archival materials. The local identifier may be used to capture the “series entry number” or “entry number” used in the NARA Regional Offices to identify series. The local identifier might not be unique. Different units may use the same local identifier for different archival materials.
HMS/MLR Entry Number – The finding aid designator (prefix and suffix) and the entry number (prefix and suffix) that together uniquely identify an entry in the Holdings Management System/Master Location Register (MLR) database, such as “A1 1077B.”.
Declassification Project Number – A unique number assigned to a specific block of records (a series, several series, a specific file folder, etc.) that has been reviewed for declassification.