n.a set of records whose affinity results from their mode of creation, assembly, maintenance, or use by the record’s creator or whose unity was imposed during archival processingSchellenberg 1961, 12Three levels of record units may be distinguished: (i) the very large, consisting of either groups of public papers or collections of private papers; (2) the intermediate, consisting of subgroups and series; and (3) the small, consisting of record units composed of individual documents or aggregations of documents fastened together into folders, binders, volumes, and the like.Holmes 1964, 31There will also be cases where no discernible pattern seems to exist for certain groupings of documents although a subject or transaction relationship is obvious. Often one really has just an accumulation or aggregation of documents relating to some matter because, apparently, the agency did not take the time to rationalize their arrangement. These accumulations can hardly be called “series” in the strict sense of the word, but arbitrarily we treat them as such—just as we are somewhat arbitrary about what constitutes a record group.O’Toole 1994, 639Finally, when still other archivists spoke of uniqueness they meant neither documents nor information nor processes but aggregations of records. Uniqueness derived from the way individual items had been assembled into files; it was those assemblages—and the fact that they had been put together in that way and not some other—which gave them the uniqueness archivists should care about.Cunningham 2001, 281A feature of these efforts has been a shift away from the traditional ‘top-down’ archival approach of describing aggregations of records to an approach that places greater emphasis on item-level control and description with links to virtual aggregations being created by virtue of the documentation of contextual relationships.Guercio 2001, 249Every record is, therefore, an element in an ensemble of other records, or better, of recordkeeping structures, functional aggregations constructed by the creator in the course and for the conduct of its activity and, thus, set in a specific juridical/administrative and documentary/archival context, in the form of files, that is, of records related to the same affair or matter, or of records series, that is types of records which are homogeneous in form (for example, the series of minutes, of decisions, of circulars, or of ledgers).Park 2001, 271Archival science derives its construction of authenticity through the management of aggregates of records with reference to their functional, procedural, and documentary contexts from the principles of diplomatics.DACS 2004, 202Aggregation 1. Records that accumulated in interrelated groups according to the way that the records creator carried out its activities, or the way that the records were arranged in inter-related groups by the archivist. 2. A fonds, series, or file.Pugh 2005, 80Other levels of hierarchy, such as record group, subgroup, and collection, are in some respects intellectual constructs that archivists use to manage larger aggregates of records.Pugh 2005, 82–83A record group is an aggregation of all series and all records from one organization. There may be subgroups, which are aggregations of series or records from from one department or function within the organization. A collection is an aggregation of personal or family records with a common provenance in the same way that a record group is an aggregation of organizational records of common provenance.Yeo 2008, 134A prototypical organizational record aggregation is also—or has been until recently—one where the elementary records accumulate in a stable organization with a hierarchical structure following the Weberian bureaucratic model and subject to little or no change over time.
When archivists identify aggregations, they ordinarily assign a level that identifies its context within a hierarchy. Examples of these levels are fonds, record group, series, and file.