n.a narrative or chronology of an organization that provides context for understanding its recordsTrever 1941a, 162The preliminary study of administrative history became essential because upon it depended the success of all subsequent work on the materials for their utilization. It is accurate knowledge of agency history which protects the archivist from making mistakes in the matter of arrangement. V. H. Galbraith has summed up the principle in this fashion: Archivists must project themselves back into the age of the creators of the archives.Nash 2010b, 84The finding aid’s administrative history describes the history of the union and how it developed as an organization.Robyns and Woolman 2011, 248–249Developing administrative histories is critical to institutional functional analysis just as the histories are critical to understanding the provenance of a record over time. However, rather than using administrative histories to place an office within an administrative hierarchy for the purpose of establishing record groups, as Maher recommends, an administrative history developed as part of a functional analysis of an office focuses on the development of the office’s major responsibilities over time. Consequently, such a history includes the date the office was established; the dates of alterations in scope, name, and programs; the reporting lines; the areas of responsibility; and key events in the in the delivery of the office’s functions.Gilliland 2014a, 101It should be noted that the Australian series system, which decouples administrative histories from the descriptions of series and then supports linkages between individual series and specific aspects of those administrative histories, is an example of how ISAAR and ISDF might be implemented.Douglas and MacNeil 2014, 159For record groups, the introduction at the group level provided a detailed administrative history describing how the records creating body was formed, its mandate, any changes made to its structure and functions, and its recordkeeping practices.DACS 2019, 30The purpose of this element is to describe the required elements of a biographical or administrative history note about creators embedded in the description of materials. The administrative/biographical history provides relevant information about corporate bodies, persons, or families who are identified using the Name of Creator(s) Element and who therefore function as nominal access points. This element also describes the relationship of creators to archival materials by providing information about the context in which those materials were created.DACS 2019, 37At the beginning of the administrative history, provide a brief summary of the most relevant aspects of the corporate body’s existence. Including name, dates of existence, main functions or activities, and geographic location.
In archival description, an administrative history often provides contextual information about corporate bodies whereas a biographical note provides contextual information about persons or families.Administrative histories typically include the name, date of establishment and/or dissolution, function, related bodies and hierarchical relationships as well as internal governance or organizational information, legal status, mandate, source of authority, significant events, and location of activity. Administrative histories are an element of archival description but are also used in records management and appraisal.