n.the establishment and maintenance of documentation that describes and accommodates access to the informational content of archival resourcesDarter 1957, 165–166Cataloging (i. e., indexing) discrete items by originator, by function, and by such special categories as geographical area, personal name, and military operation can achieve pretty complete intellectual control over the subject content of records. Its minuteness, however, makes it a special-purpose system suitable only for records of very great interest rather than for all records.East 1964, 49As the medium through which our depository synthesized its intellectual controls for the benefit of staff and clientele alike, the cataloging system took five years to evolve.Fisher and Evans 1967, 344Although archivists and manuscript curators share with librarians and documentalists a concern for establishing intellectual or subject-content control over their holdings, traditionally their primary concern has been for establishing physical control—control in terms of the form and identity of the unpublished units of research material in their custody. Of basic importance is the recognition that what is involved is not two mutually exclusive types of control, but rather two levels of control that necessarily complement each other. Thus accession inventories, registration statements or similar accession controls, and finding aids of all types—guides, catalogs, descriptive and series-title inventories, registers, special lists, calendars, etc.—which may or may not contain indexes, are intended in varying degrees to establish both types of control over unpublished materials. In fact, identification for physical control is impossible without some degree of description, which contributes to intellectual control.Papenfuse, Levine, and Lee 1977, 325Over the past two years, however, we have developed plans for three pilot inventory programs that, if fully implemented, not only should bring our total archival resources under proper intellectual and physical control by the year 2000, but also should provide an efficient, economical model for other states to follow.Brichford et al. 1977, 307Intellectual control should be established immediately upon receipt of the material. The initial control may be in the form of an accessions register, an inventory worksheet from the sources of the records, an archives preliminary inventory, or a basic record series description that can be refined and extended after the record series or collection is processed.Brichford et al. 1977, 310What do archivists mean by the phrase “intellectual control of historical records and manuscripts”? For the most part, they define it as the ability of an archivist or a researcher to extract relevant information from documents.Berner 1978, 171This form of description represents a collective form that recognizes the record series as the key element in gaining intellectual control below the collection level.Bearman 1979, 187We may opt to use more complicated, expensive, and flexible systems to accommodate data of the sort we are most used to; or we can change our methods of description and our output requirements to use fields of more uniform, limited, and definable lengths and benefit from more efficient automated systems. Such systems could completely replace the layers of intellectual control we now maintain, from inventories and descriptions of individual collections to repository level descriptions and national catalogs; but they would not be used primarily to print guides such as those we have prepared manually for years, but rather would comprise a data bank, linked in a national network, searched interactively, and available to archivists and the end user.Lytle 1980a, 70Archives administration doctrine emphasizes that records of organizations are created in the course of human activity, and that the resulting organic character of archives is the key to their physical and intellectual control.Sahli 1981, 17At the other extreme are institutions whose administration adopts a particular form of administrative or intellectual control—such as an on-line system designed chiefly for library cataloging—without evaluating whether this system is indeed suited for all types of material at the institution.Joyce 1984, 130The development of analytically precise finding aids enriched by multiple access points increases the usefulness of the information that archivists can glean from their holdings. The corollary to this, of course, is to link the enumeration of the intellectual characteristics of archives with the needs of the users of documents. More simply, improved systems of intellectual control of archives will promote readier access.Berner and Haller 1984, 147, fn. 21Decisions on what level of detail is to be provided are based on processing priorities, the apparent ease or difficulty of extracting the desired descriptive terms, and the apparent utility—for users—of the terms. Such decisions must be made in any processing setting and have nothing to do with the integrated nature of this system. Priorities are affected by anticipated needs of researchers and of administration, but in this system every accession is under some degree of intellectual control from the time it is accessioned.Stout and Baird 1984, 395The second subject of the survey was the use of automation in the intellectual and physical control of holdings by means of internal automated control systems and the use of word-processing and other similar systems for the preparation of finding aids.Jackson 1997, 140Unlike libraries, in which intellectual access is meted out equally and users are rarely recruited, archives most often provide a spectrum of intellectual controls (depending on the individual collections, anything from no description to an extensive one) and frequently need to tout their program and holdings to potential users.Eastwood 2000, 95My focus here, however, is on intellectual control, or administrative control only as it concerns intellectual control. Intellectual control is the means of documenting the provenance, arrangement, scope, composition, content, and external and internal relationships of archival material.Hackbart-Dean and de Catanzaro 2002, 131Seven critical stages of processing allow archivists to gain intellectual and physical control over a large collection: background research, preliminary inventory of records with preliminary groupings, identification of series and arrangement, review for weeding and sampling, physical arrangement and basic level of preservation, the preparation of the finding aid, and the creation of a catalog record.Schwartz 2002, 164Computerized databases permit centralized intellectual control over, and access to, all media of record, regardless of physical location.Roe 2005, 11Arrangement and description are the essential processes by which an archivist gains intellectual and physical control over a body of records.Matusiak and Johnston 2014, 242Digitization, although not capable of slowing down the deterioration of original materials, offers an opportunity to recover the content of unstable film negatives, to extend access to them, and to restore their usefulness as information sources by enhancing intellectual control and providing item-level description.Joffrion and Fernández 2015, 211Moreover, the tribal community retains intellectual control of the research conducted on the tribal community. This level of collaboration has encouraged tribal members to donate materials to an established research archives far from the reservation in Oklahoma, but near traditional tribal lands in Ohio and Indiana.Trace 2021, 329The notion that intellectual control exists at any point in time, and not just as a post hoc arrangement, posited that the work and role of the archivist could (and should) exist as part of an integrated records continuum approach.
This archival function occurs during accessioning and processing with the intent to help staff and researchers locate relevant archival resources, and it can incorporate information tools developed by the creator or repository staff. Additionally, intellectual control includes descriptive efforts that point to where the content should be stored. Distinct from this, physical control ensures that archival resources are stored where descriptions indicate.