Archival Descriptions

Archival Descriptions identifies and explains the context and content of archival materials in order to promote its accessibility. ESSArch adheres to ISAD (G), 2nd Edition and comes with a standard set of controlled vocabularies for typed fields which can be customized or supplemented by additional values. Archival descriptions are created and controlled separately from authority records in ESSArch and are associated by linking.


Structures are a basis for the arrangement, classification and description of records and can in be filing plans, business process classifications description of functions or basically any other classification system that can be represented as either a flat or a tree hierarchy structure.

Structures in ESSArch largely based upon ISDF 1st edition For a detailed crosswalk between ESSArch and ISDF please see the ICA Standards section.

Adding new structure types

New structure types are added through ESSArch’s administration interface.

Add structure type admin form

A structure type can be configured to either allow or disallow:

  • Editable instances of a template

  • Editable relations (to other levels or structures) of a template

  • Movable instance units (nodes in a tree) of a template

Adding new Structure Unit Types

Structure units are the levels of classification and description within a given structure and are added to a structure type through ESSArch’s administration interface.

Add structure unit type admin form

two different structure types with example structure units (levels).

Structure Type

Structure Unit

Business Classification Scheme


Business Classification Scheme


Business Classification Scheme


Catalogue structure


Catalogue structure


Catalogue structure


Adding new Structure

Structures (template) are administrated under the structure section of ESSArch.

New structure modal

To add a new structure, click the new structure button .

New structure modal

Adding Structure units

Structure units are added to a structure by right clicking on a node in the tree.

Add structure unit

Adding relationships to other Structures / Structure units

Add structure unit


When a Structure has been published it becomes available for use through out ESSArch.

Top-level Resources

All resources described in ESSArch need to have a top-level resource. Intellectually this can represent the archival descriptions on the fonds or collections level.

There are no limitations of the types of top-level resources that can be used in ESSArch. One institution might settle with just one top-level whilst another has a need for distinguish different types of archives or collections.

Add top-level resource

Adding a new top-level resource

Under the resource tab click on the “new resource” button. From the structures field choose one or more structures that will act as a template for the the top-level resource it self and underlying resource descriptions defined in the structure.

Add top-level resource

When initially creating an top-level resource record the following fields are required:

  • Name (ISAD-G Title)

  • Structures

  • Creator

  • Type

  • Reference code

Adding new structure units

Structure units are the levels of classification and description within a given structure. If the user has the right permissions new structure units can be added to an instance (top-level resource) of a structure.

To add a new structure unit, right click on the tree node and select “add structure unit”

Add top-level resource
Add top-level resource

Adding nodes

Nodes can be described as something with a physical representation within a logical structure, something that can be moved around. e.g. analogue information packages archival boxes, other containers as well as digital information packages (AIP) and items contained in these packages.

Nodes are added under structure units by right clicking on a structure unit in the tree and select “add node”.

Add top-level resource

When a structure unit is selected in the tree, an overview of the contents is displayed.

Add top-level resource

Adding descriptive texts and notes

In ESSArch one can have multiple descriptive texts / notes for resource records

Standard type of notes that can be used in ESSArch:

  • Archival history

  • Administrative / Biographical history

  • Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Appraisal

  • Destruction

  • Scheduling

  • Accruals

  • System of arrangement

  • Physical characteristics

  • Finding aid

  • Publication note

  • Archivist’s note

To add a new descriptive text click on the History or Remarks tab and then the add button.

Add top-level resource