New! Online Dictionary of Archives Terminology

Compiled by SAA’s Dictionary Working Group, the Dictionary of Archives Terminology (DAT) expands upon A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology by Richard Pearce-Moses (SAA, 2005).

With this web-only publication, the Dictionary Working Group has expanded the connections made for each entry and added hyperlinks to take you directly to related terms. Entries have been added to one or more of 34 categories. Not only do these categories provide additional context for individual entries, they provide users with the ability to view all terms within a particular topic.

Our favourite term will always be:

Inherent vice

(also inherent fault), n.The tendency of material to deteriorate due to the essential instability of the components or interaction among components.


Nitrate film and highly acidic paper suffer inherent vice because they are chemically unstable. An object made of metal and leather suffers inherent vice because the leather causes the metal to corrode.


The SAA press release notes:

“The Dictionary of Archives Terminology is a work in progress and updates to it will be made weekly as new terms are defined and existing terms revised. Your feedback on a term helps shape the lexicon. You can also suggest new terms for potential inclusion in the dictionary or new uses of words already defined. And we hope you are subscribed to Word of the Week, a weekly e-blast that delivers archives terminology straight to your email inbox.”

SAA is grateful to the Dictionary Working Group members for their enthusiasm and dedication to producing this important professional resource that has been six years in the making, and for their ongoing commitment to lexicography:
  • Rosemary Pleva Flynn (chair, University of North Dakota)
  • Kathryn Bowers (Harvard University Archives)
  • Tamar Chute (The Ohio State University)
  • Cliff Hight (Kansas State University)
  • Geoffrey Huth (New York State Unified Court System)
  • Mary Elizabeth Ruwell (US Air Force Academy)
  • Dawn Schmitz (University of North Carolina Charlotte)
  • Margery N. Sly (Temple University Libraries)
  • Katy Sternberger (Portsmouth Athenaeum)


Another nice listing of terminology is My Sammelband has Frisket-Bite: A Short Glossary of Delightful Library Terms