3.2.3 Archival history
Purpose – To provide information on the history of the unit of description that is significant for its authenticity, integrity and interpretation.
Rules – Record the successive transfers of ownership, responsibility and/or custody of the unit of description and indicate those actions, such as the history of the arrangement, production of contemporary finding aids, re-use of the records for other purposes or software migrations, that have contributed to its present structure and arrangement. Give the dates of these actions, insofar as they can be ascertained. If archival history is unknown, record that information. Optionally, when the unit of description is acquired directly from the creator, do not record an archival history but rather, record this information as the Immediate source of acquisition (See 3.2.4.)
For born digital material, the information required to fulfil the purpose of this element is extensive and complex. As a general principle, the ‘archival history’ of born digital material does not stop at any point, but is a continuous process of preservation actions, such as integrity checking and possibly migration to newer formats or media, carried out both before and after the material is accessioned into the archive. Practice is still emerging but it is suggested that there may need to be different views of the information recorded under this heading for different purposes. For example, it may need to be explained in summary in human terms and then also recorded as a machine readable ‘audit trail’ of preservation actions perhaps using PREMIS http://www.loc.gov/standards/premis/v3/index.html. These machine readable versions may be automatically generated (either by the archive service’s, or earlier custodians’ systems) and held in separate digital repository systems, to which the catalogue may or may not link. Then again, it may be that a link could be included in this field to any photographs held of the original media on which the material was stored as this is legitimately part of the Archival History.