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Churchill Archives Centre: Cataloguing and collection processing policy

1. Aims, purpose and objectives

The mission of Churchill Archives Centre is to collect, preserve and make available archival material. This policy states and communicates the principles that guide collection description activities and the creation and publication of finding aids.

The objectives of the Cataloguing and Collections Information Policy are:

This policy is subordinate to the Churchill Archives Centre Mission Statement

2. Background

Churchill Archives Centre has an increasing collection of personal archives. Currently there are more than 600 collections ranging in size and historical significance. The Centre’s professional and para-professional staff produce digital finding aids in accordance with professional archival standards and publish them online to make them accessible to researchers all over the world at all times. Finding aids are also essential to the Centre’s staff for answering enquiries, locating information and outreach activities. The Centre has been collecting archival material since 1965 and so many of its collections were catalogued before the advent of archival standards and computers. The Centre also has a backlog of uncatalogued collections. This policy explains our approach to creating finding aids providing information about our collections.

3. Professional standards for archival description used at Churchill Archives Centre

For ‘controlled access’ (or index) terms, the Centre uses:

4. Software and systems

Catalogues are currently produced in house using Cantab, an ISAD(G) compliant database for the hierarchical cataloguing of archives, developed by Cambridge archivists using the Windows application Microsoft Access. 

5. Publication of finding aids and digital images

Churchill Archives Centre publishes catalogues (as EAD files) and uploads them on Janus  where they can be searched and browsed.

The Centre also publishes digital images of its collections, usually through partnership working. The Churchill Papers (catalogue, digital images of documents and research guides) have been commercially published by Bloomsbury Academic

The catalogue of the open sections of the Thatcher papers is available on Janus and the catalogue is updated each time material is released. A selection of key images from the open sections of the papers are available, with commentary, on the official website of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

Collection and finding aid information is also supplied to the National Register of Archives.

6. Availability of collections information

6.1 Full Guide

There is basic information about all the Centre’s collections (including uncatalogued collections) available on our website as part of our Full Guide, eg.

AGAR, Alan
Papers on the history of the Electron Microscope, 1945–98.
AGAR 13 boxes
A more detailed description of this collection is available on the Janus webserver

6.2 Cataloguing

A catalogue is a comprehensive, high quality, enhanced description of a collection which includes access points (to aid searching) and detailed descriptions of the collection. For an example of a detailed catalogue, see the catalogue to the Papers of Leo Amery.

6.3 Retrospective conversion

As well as creating new catalogues, we also continually work on retrospectively converting our older typewritten lists, bringing them into line with standards and publishing them. About 75% of our typewritten catalogues have been fully converted in this way. For the 25% remaining, we already have a detailed collection level description plus descriptions of the series (sections) within the collection (e.g: The Papers of Sir William Deakin).

6.4 Box listing (basic listing)

Some of the Centre’s collections have not been fully catalogued but nearly all collections are box listed on arrival at Churchill Archives Centre. Box lists are often used as a preparation for cataloguing but in some cases these brief inventories serve as a finding aid.

7. Cataloguing backlog and assignment of resources

The Archives Centre has a methodology for assessing collections and prioritising work and resources on them. In deciding which collections (or parts of collections) should be fully catalogued (which entails a high level of resource) the following criteria are taken into consideration:


Reviewed by: Andrew Riley

Date: 30 September 2019

Approved by Senior Management Team for October 2019 Archives Committee meeting

Date of next review: October 2020


Further Information

Allen Packwood
Churchill Archives Centre
Telephone (01223) 336175