n. (abbr. DACS)rules maintained by the Society of American Archivists specifying the data elements to be used to represent an archival resource and its componentsDACS 2004, viiThose accustomed to using APPM will have little difficulty adopting this new standard. Everything that was in the second edition of APPM is here, and more. While APPM was a content standard intended specifically for the creation of catalog records, DACS can be used to create any type or level of description of archival and manuscript materials, including catalog records and full finding aids.Shepherd 2005, 339In February of 2005, the SAA Council approved Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) as an official SAA standard, replacing the second edition of Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts (APPM) as the nation’s content standard for archival description. DACS is the next logical step in the evolution of archival descriptive standards in the United States. It moves us away from a standard based on bibliographic rules and designed for creating catalog records and toward a truly archival standard that can be applied to full finding aids.DACS 2013, viiiResource Description and Access (RDA) ¶ A careful review of the descriptive rules in DACS and comparison with the descriptive rules contained in RDA quickly demonstrated that many of the rules in Part III of DACS had been superseded by RDA and that important archival rules (particularly those related to the creation of family names) had been included in RDA. This led to the most obvious change from DACS 2004—the removal of Part III.Nimer and Daines 2013, 536With its focus on aggregates, DACS-based descriptions are significantly different from those produced using rare book rules. The guidelines for recording the physical description, for example, include the option of recording extent in terms of the space the materials occupy on the shelves. At the file or item levels, DACS can also be applied in conjunction with companion standards specific to the material type. The multi-level descriptions that result from DACS are called finding aids.Gracy and Lambert 2014, 97In 2013, the Society of American Archivists released the second edition of the primary data content standard for description of archival materials in the United States, Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS). DACS was revised with the intention of harmonizing its rules to the standards of the International Council on Archives (ICA), which are the International Standard for Archival Description (ISAD) and the International Standard for Archival Authority Records—Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (ISAAR-CPF).Douglas 2016, 28It should be noted that while I refer to certain descriptive standards, such as the Canadian Rules for Archival Description (RAD), the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)), and the American Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) in different parts of this article, my purpose here is neither to critique particular standards nor to propose solutions specific to any particular standards; rather, my aim is to call attention to what is typically lacking from archival description, and I focus on the gap between what is done and what could be done by archivists to more fully represent the nature of the archives with which they work.Huggard and Jackson 2019, 546, fn. 52Principle 9 in the revised Statement of Principles to Describing Archives: A Content Standard . . . specifically states that each collection within a repository should have an archival description.
First published in 2004 and made an official standard in 2005, DACS was the first SAA descriptive content standard to provide guidance for all levels of description in finding aids. In 2013, the second edition removed Part III, which had addressed the description of corporate bodies, persons, and families.