artificial collection

n. A collection of materials with different provenance assembled and organized to facilitate its management or use.


Artificial collections, as distinguished from organic collections, typically do not grow out of a single, specific function, and are often arranged for the convenience of description or retrieval rather than in an order originally established by the creator.


AABC 1999 Many archives also house groups of material 'collected' for some reason, perhaps by a member of the community or organization, a previous archivist, or a local historian. For example, a member of the local historical society might have collected references to New Caledonia's railway construction, and in the process he might have removed individual letters, photographs, and maps from larger bodies of material, such as the records of a local construction company which helped build the train station or the papers of a citizen who worked on the railway. Once these items were removed from their original location, their provenance and original order were lost. The records then became an 'artificial collection' drawn together from diverse (and often unknown) sources.