n.a set of archival or (more commonly) manuscript materialsmaterials assembled by a person, organization, or repository from a variety of sources; an artificial collectionAPPM2 1989, 1.0AA body of archival material formed by or around a person, family group, corporate body, or subject either from a common source as a natural product of activity or function, or gathered purposefully and artificially without regard to original provenance.Johnston and Robinson 2002, 2The archival community has not traditionally used the term “collection” to label the aggregates of material they typically describe. Archivists make the distinction between an archival fonds, where the items are of known provenance and their arrangement reflects their original working order as the records of an organisation or individual, and an “artificial collection,” where the items are associated but lack the coherence of a fonds. The archivist recognises the fonds as the set of items that have been created and accumulated by an identifiable individual body (or bodies). However, it should be emphasised that both these classes of aggregates (the fonds and the artificial collection) are 'collections' in the more general sense in which the term is used here. Within an archival fonds, an item can be fully understood only within the context of its relationship with other items and aggregates in the fonds, and descriptive practice reflects this.(sometimes pl., collections) a thematic aggregation of sets of otherwise unrelated archival materials(also pl., collections) the holdings of a repository, taken as a wholethe process and practice of collecting archival materials
The word collection is one of the many fraught terms in archives. The term bears the weight of many, and sometimes contradictory, meanings, but it remains a heavily used term, and there is a good reason it is so: because, everything in an archives, in the end, is collected by archivists—or foisted upon it by a higher power. Everyone uses the term, but many hate it. To the purist, the term collection appears to suggest the archivist assembles archives from scraps rather than appraises the records the archives acquires. To the manuscripts librarian, the term may suggest every collection is an artificial collection—since, indeed, many are.