Refine Your Search by Record Group or Collection

Today’s post comes from Suzanne Isaacs, Community Manager, National Archives Catalog

Researcher Reviewing Records, 3/1968 National Archives Identifier  23855361

If you’ve ever searched in the Catalog, you’re probably familiar with the refinements available with your search results in the left margin, e.g. Refine by Level of Description, Refine by Type of Materials, or Refine by Date. Well, now you can refine by record group or collection too. Previously, users were only able to limit their search by record group or collection in the advanced search, and the number or identifier had to be known and entered manually.

What is a Record Group?
A Record Group comprises the records of a major government entity, usually a bureau or an independent agency that created or maintained these records.  For example, National Archives Record Group 4 is Records of the U.S. Food Administration.

What is a Collection?
A Collection is an artificial accumulation of documents brought together on the basis of some characteristic (such as means of acquisition, creator, subject, language, media, form, name of collector) without regard to the source of the documents. 

For example, the collection “Franklin D. Roosevelt Political Papers” (Collection Identifier FDR-FDRPOL) is a collection donated by Roosevelt of his papers that relate to his pre-presidency political activities in the Democratic Party from December 1920  to January 1928.

Under this new refinement option, you will see a list of the records group numbers and/or collection identifiers that have results responsive to their search terms. These record groups and collections are sorted in descending order based on which have the most relevant results – you will see the number of relevant results next to each record group or collection listed.

An example of Refine by Record Group/Collection in a search result

For users who don’t know what a particular record group number of collection identifier means, they can hover over the number/identifier and see the full title of the record group or collection.

An example of hover over option to see the full Record Group or Collection Title

This new refinement feature will help users narrow their results to the record groups or collections that are of interest to them. If you try the feature out, let us know how it works! We’d love to hear your feedback.

2 thoughts on “Refine Your Search by Record Group or Collection

  1. I haven’t yet tried the new RG / COLLECTION feature, but I’m wondering…is a collection the same as the series?

    1. Sorry for the delay in answering your question. A collection is not the same as a series. This webpage on archives.gov demonstrates the relationship and links to brief definitions.

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