2.7 Administrative/Biographical History (Optimum)

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this element is to describe the required elements of a biographical or administrative history note about creators embedded in the description of materials. The administrative/biographical history provides relevant information about corporate bodies, persons, or families who are identified using the Name of Creator(s) Element and who therefore function as nominal access points. This element also describes the relationship of creators to archival materials by providing information about the context in which those materials were created.

Commentary: Information about the corporate body, person, or family that created, assembled, accumulated, and/or maintained and used the materials being described may be described in one of two ways:

  1. Incorporated into the description using biographical/historical notes. These rules are covered here in Element 2.7.

  2. Held in a separate system of authority files that are linked to the archival descriptions and displayed together. These rules are covered in Part II.

Archivists may wish to devise more or less detail, depending on the system being used and other local variables. For example, the administrative/biographical history information in a catalog record describing the materials should be brief, while an authority record or creator sketch in a multilevel finding aid may be much more extensive, consisting of a narrative description, chronology, or both.

There may be instances in describing collections where providing information about the collector is not necessary—for example, when the repository is the collector.


2.7.1 Record information about the scope and content of the materials in the Scope and Content Element (3.1).

2.7.2 Record information about the structure or arrangement of the materials in the System of Arrangement Element (3.2).

2.7.3 Record information about the custodial history in the Custodial History Element (5.1).

Sources of Information

2.7.4 Assemble the information from reliable sources, such as the materials themselves and reference works. Establish a consistent policy regarding the content, form, and placement of citation of sources and quotations.

Rules for Biographical Historical Notes Done Within the Description

2.7.5 Where the administrative/biographical history is provided within the description, provide administrative/biographical history at the highest levels of description as instructed in rules 2.7.6 to 2.7.33.

2.7.6 At the highest level of description, give information about the history of the corporate body(ies), person(s), or family(ies) that created, assembled, accumulated, and/or maintained and used the material as a whole.

2.7.7 Optionally, at subsequent levels of description, if the creator of the subordinate unit is different from the creator of the material as a whole, give information about the history of the corporate body(ies), person(s), or family(ies) that created, assembled, accumulated, and/or maintained and used that subordinate unit.

2.7.8 When primary responsibility for the creation, assembly, accumulation, and/or maintenance and use of the materials is shared between two or more corporate bodies, or two or more persons, or two or more families, create separate administrative/biographical histories for each corporate body, person, or family.

2.7.9 When primary responsibility for the creation, assembly, accumulation, and/or maintenance and use of the materials is shared between two or more members of a family, create separate biographical histories for the family and for each person.

Selection of the Subelements

2.7.10 Include in the Administrative/Biographical History all of the following subelements1 that are relevant to the corporate body, person, or family being described and that provide the information necessary to explain the context in which the materials were created, assembled, accumulated, and/or maintained and used.

Biographical History of Individuals or Families

2.7.11 Record information relevant to the understanding of the life, activities, and relationships of the person or family, applying rules 2.7.12 to 2.7.21 as necessary.

Bessye J. Bearden was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1891, the youngest child of George and Carrie Banks. She attended local schools in North Carolina, Hartshorn Memorial College in Richmond, and Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute, from which she graduated. In later years Mrs. Bearden did graduate work at the University of Western Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

At the age of 20, Bessye Banks married R. Howard Bearden. They had one son, Romare, who became an internationally renowned artist.

Mrs. Bearden managed the New York office of the E. C. Brown Real Estate Company of Philadelphia for many years. She was also the New York representative for the Chicago Defender, starting in 1927, and did freelance writing for other publications. On June 11, 1935, Mrs. Bearden was appointed Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, serving first in the Processing Division and later as an auditor. In 1922 she was the first black woman to be elected to local School Board No. 15 in New York City, where she served until 1939.

Mrs. Bearden was involved in numerous civic activities and belonged to several organizations, among them the New York Urban League, where she served as secretary of the executive board; the Council of Negro Women, where she served as treasurer; and the executive boards of the Harlem Community Council and the Colored Women's Democratic League, of which she was the first president.

Mrs. Bearden died in September 1943 at Harlem Hospital in New York City.

Biographical sketch for the Bessye J. Bearden papers

Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-1874), the original Siamese twins, were born in Meklong, Siam, and were brought from Bangkok to Boston in 1829. After extensive tours in North America and Europe, they settled in Wilkes County (later Surry County), N.C., were naturalized, and received the surname Bunker by act of the legislature. In 1843, Chang and Eng Bunker married Sarah and Adelaide Yates, daughters of David Yates of Wilkes County, N.C. Chang had ten children; Eng had nine children. They continued to make exhibition tours until about 1870.

Biographical sketch for the Chang and Eng Bunker papers

1886 Born 14 October, Fayetteville, N.C., son of Katherine Sloan and Alexander Graham

1909 Received A.B. from University of North Carolina

1910 Licensed to practice law in North Carolina

1911-1913 English teacher at Raleigh High School

1914-1916 Instructor of history, UNC

1916 Received M.A. from Columbia University

1917-1919 U.S. Marine Corps private (mustered out as first lieutenant)

1920-1921 Assistant professor, UNC

1921-1927 Associate professor, UNC; member of the President's Committee on Education; twice president of the North Carolina Conference of Social Service (sponsored and prepared first worker's compensation act in North Carolina); founded Citizens' Library Movement of North Carolina

1927-1930 Professor of history, UNC

1930-1932 President of UNC (Chapel Hill)

Chronology for the Frank Porter Graham papers

2.7.12 At the beginning of the biographical history, provide a brief summary of the most relevant aspects of a person’s or family’s life. Include name, dates, profession, and geographic location.

Frederick Reines (1918-1998) was a particle physicist, Nobel laureate, and educator internationally recognized for his verification of the existence of the neutrino and investigation of its properties.

Biographical sketch for the Frederick Reines papers

Political activist Allard Kenneth Lowenstein (1929-1980) served as a lawyer, teacher, speaker, author, U.S. congressman from New York, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and founder and leader of several organizations.

Biographical sketch for the Allard K. Lowenstein papers

Guion Griffis Johnson (1900-1989) of Chapel Hill, N.C., was a professor, author, scholar, journalist, women's advocate, and general civic leader.

Biographical sketch for the Guion Griffis Johnson papers


2.7.13 Record the full name, title(s), married name(s), alias(es), pseudonym(s), and common or popular name(s) of persons.

Edgar Allardyce Wood wrote under the name of Kerry Wood. He was also known as Nobby.

Michael Rigsby Revere, formerly Michael Darrell Rigsby, was born in 1951.

2.7.14 For families, record information about the origin of the family and the names of persons forming it, including the facts of marriages, and the names of children.

The Gordon family of Savannah, Ga., included William Washington (W. W.) Gordon (1834-1912), lawyer, Confederate Army officer, cotton merchant, state legislator, and brigadier general during the Spanish-American War of 1898; his wife, Eleanor (Nelly) Lytle Kinzie Gordon (1835-1917); her mother, Juliette Magill (Mrs. John) Kinzie of Chicago, author; and the children of W. W. and Nelly, especially G. Arthur (Arthur) Gordon (1872-1941), cotton merchant and civic leader of Savannah; Juliette (Daisy) Gordon Low (1860-1927), founder of the Girl Scouts; and Mabel Gordon Leigh, who lived in England and was honored for her relief work during World War I.

Biographical sketch for the Gordon family papers

The Ker family was related to the Baker and other families of Mississippi and Louisiana. Prominent family members included John Ker (1789-1850) of Natchez, Miss., and Concordia Parish, La., who was a surgeon, planter, 1830s Louisiana state senator, and vice president of the American Colonization Society; his wife Mary Baker Ker (d. 1862); their daughter, schoolteacher Mary Susan Ker (1838-1923), who taught at the Natchez Institute; and two grandnieces raised by Mary Susan: Matilda Ralston (Tillie) Dunbar (fl. 1890s-1960s), who clerked in a Fayette, Miss., bank, and Catharine Dunbar Brown (d. 1959), who first taught at the Natchez Institute and later owned a rare book and antiques store.

Biographical sketch for the Ker family papers


2.7.15 For persons, record the dates or approximate dates of birth and death.2

Charles Bishop Kuralt, 1934-1997, was a newspaper, radio, and television journalist and author.

Biographical sketch for the Charles Kuralt papers

George Moses Horton (1798?-ca. 1880) was a Chatham County, N.C., slave who taught himself to read and compose poetry.

Biographical sketch for the George Moses Horton poem

Place(s) of Residence

2.7.16 Indicate the geographical place(s) of residence of the person or family and the length of residence in each place, as well as any other place with which the person or family has a connection.

Edward Hammond Boatner was born November 13, 1898, in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father, Dr. Daniel Webster Boatner, was an itinerant minister who took his family with him on his travels from church to church. Impressed by the singing he heard in those churches, Boatner began to collect spirituals at an early age. He was educated in the public schools of St. Louis, Missouri, where his family lived during his childhood. He also attended the public schools of Kansas City, Kansas, where his family later moved. Upon graduation in 1916, Boatner took lessons in voice and piano at Western University in Quindaro, Kansas, for a short time. Later that year Boatner sang for the famous tenor Roland Hayes, who encouraged the young baritone to continue his vocal studies in Boston. Boatner followed Hayes's advice and moved to Boston in 1917. In 1925, Boatner moved to Chicago in order to complete his formal education. He earned his bachelor's degree in music from the Chicago College of Music in 1932. During his student years in Chicago, Boatner directed the choirs at Olivet Baptist Church and concertized widely as a singer. His reputation grew during the years 1925-1933, when he was director of music for the National Baptist Convention. In 1933, Boatner was appointed director of music at Samuel Huston College in Austin, Texas. He later taught at the Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where he was appointed dean of music. During the late 1930s, he settled permanently in New York City, where he opened the Edward Boatner Studio.

Biographical sketch for the Edward Boatner papers

Born in eastern Ukraine, Vsevolod Holubnychy fled with his family to Bavaria in 1943 to escape the Red Army. In 1951, he moved to New York City and attended Columbia University. He was professor at the City University of New York from 1962 until his death.

Biographical sketch for the Vsevolod Holubnychy fonds

The Cameron family of Orange and Durham counties and Raleigh, N.C., was among antebellum North Carolina's largest landholders and slave holders; the Camerons also owned substantial plantations in Alabama and Mississippi.

Biographical sketch for the Cameron family papers

Antonina Hansell Looker (1898-1987) was an author, teacher, and psychiatric worker of Atlanta and Lakemont, Rabun County, Ga., and New York City.

Biographical sketch for the Antonina Hansell Looker papers


2.7.17 Record information about the formal education of persons, including members of families whose education is important to an understanding of their life.

With the outbreak of World War II, the Yasutake family, together with all other ethnic Japanese residing in Washington, Oregon, and California, was removed to an internment camp. The family was sent to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho. This internment made a deep impression on Yamada that informed much of her later literary and political career. After the war, she completed a B.A. at New York University (1947) and an M.A. at the University of Chicago (1953), both in English literature.

Biographical sketch for the Mitsuye Yamada papers

Floyd B. McKissick (1922-1991), the son of Ernest Boyce and Magnolia Thompson McKissick, was born in Asheville, N.C., on 9 March 1922. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from North Carolina Central University. During the course of his educational pursuits, he became the first African American man to attend the Law School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Biographical sketch for the Floyd B. McKissick papers

Occupation, Life, and Activities

2.7.18 Record information about the principal occupation(s) and career or lifework of persons or about the activities of families. Also indicate any other activities important to an understanding of the life of the person or family. Give information about significant accomplishments or achievements, including honors, decorations, and noteworthy public recognition.

Blyden Jackson, African American professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote novels and works on African-American and Southern literature. He also served from 1973 to 1981 as the assistant dean/special assistant to the dean of the Graduate School at UNC-CH and was charged with promoting the recruitment and retention of minority graduate students and working with the University's Student Aid Office to secure scholarships and fellowships for graduate students.

Biographical sketch for the Blyden Jackson papers

Paul Green's contributions were widely recognized. In addition to the early Pulitzer Prize and the Guggenheim Fellowship, he received the Belasco Little Theatre Tournament trophy in 1925. Other honors included the National Theatre Conference plaque, the American Theater Association citation for distinguished service to the theater, the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union's Frank P. Graham Award, the Morrison Award, the North Caroliniana Society Award, the North Carolina Writers Conference Award, and the Sir Walter Raleigh cup. In 1979 the General Assembly named him North Carolina's dramatist laureate. He received honorary doctorates from the University of North Carolina, Davidson College, Campbell College, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and four out-of-state colleges and universities.

Biographical sketch for the Paul Green papers

2.7.19 Identify important relationships with other persons or organizations and indicate any office(s) held.

Susan M. Arkeketa, who is Otoe-Missouri and Muscogee (Creek), has worked for nonprofit Indian organizations such as the Oklahoma City Native American Center, the Native American Rights Fund, and the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). She served the latter as executive director when it was known as the Native American Press Association (NAPA) and later as a member of its board of directors. She has taught writing and speech at Haskell Indian Nations University, Tulsa Community College, and the University of Phoenix. She continues to work as a freelance writer and consultant to tribes and organizations.

Biographical sketch for the Susan Arkeketa papers

Jessie Daniel Ames (1883-1972) was a civil rights worker of Atlanta, Ga.; Georgetown, Tex.; and Tryon, N.C. Beginning in 1922, Ames served separate roles as secretary and vice president of the Texas Commission on Interracial Cooperation. By 1929, she had moved to Atlanta, where she was director of women's work for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. During this time, Ames established the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, which functioned as a volunteer component within the Commission.

Biographical sketch for the Jessie Daniel Ames papers

2.7.20 For families, describe family relationships that have a bearing on the understanding of the unit being described.

Lenoir family members include William Lenoir, Revolutionary War general and N.C. politician of Fort Defiance, Caldwell County,  N.C.; Lenoir's friend and father-in-law of two of Lenoir's sons Waightstill Avery, lawyer, legislator, and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration; and his son-in-law Israel Pickens, N.C.  congressman, 1811-1817, governor of Alabama, 1821-1825, and U.S.  senator from Alabama, 1826.

Biographical sketch for the Lenoir family papers

Thomas Gale (fl. 1815-1881), a physician who served with Indian-fighting soldiers in Alabama Territory in 1815 and afterward became a planter in Jefferson and Yazoo counties, Miss., and later in Davidson, Tenn., married Ann M. Greene (fl. 1820-1845). Their son, William Dudley Gale (fl. 1844-1881), married Katherine ("Kate") Polk (fl. 1858-1895) in 1858, after his first wife died.

Biographical sketch for the Gale and Polk family papers

Other Significant Information

2.7.21 Record any other important information not recorded elsewhere in the biographical history.

Administrative History of Corporate Bodies

2.7.22 Give information relevant to the understanding of the creator’s functions, activities, and relations with other corporate bodies, applying rules 2.7.23 to 2.7.33 as necessary.

The American Missionary Association was established in 1846 as an interdenominational missionary society devoted to abolitionist principles. From its beginning, the major support for the Association came from Congregationalists, but it also received support from Wesleyan Methodists, Free Presbyterians, and Free Will Baptists. In 1865 it became the official agency of the Congregational churches for conducting educational work among the freedmen. Support from other denominations gradually declined until the Association became exclusively a Congregational organization.

Administrative history for the American Missionary Association records

2.7.23 At the beginning of the administrative history, provide a brief summary of the most relevant aspects of the corporate body’s existence. Including name, dates of existence, main functions or activities, and geographic location.

The Goldband Recording Corporation of Lake Charles, La., has played a key role in documenting and shaping musical traditions, tastes, and trends, both regionally and on an international level since 1944.

Administrative history for the Goldband Recording Corporation records

A. P. Watt and Company of London, England, was the world's first literary agency and, for thirty years after its founding in the early 1880s, was the largest in the world.

Administrative history for the A. P. Watt and Company records

The Anne C. Stouffer Foundation was established in 1967 by Anne Forsyth of Winston-Salem, N.C., to promote the integration of preparatory schools in the South.

Administrative history for the Anne C. Stouffer Foundation records

Dates of Founding and/or Dissolution

2.7.24 Give the date and place of the founding of the corporate body, and if applicable, the date and place of its dissolution.

Glencoe Mills, established in 1880 by James Henry Holt (1833-1897) and William Erwin Holt (1839-1917), operated until 1954, producing cotton fabric.

Administrative history for the Glencoe Mills records

The White Rock Baptist Church was founded in 1866 in Durham, N.C., by two clergymen, the Reverend Zuck Horton and the Reverend Samuel "Daddy" Hunt, who organized the church in the home of Margaret "Maggie" Faucette.

Administrative history for the White Rock Baptist Church records

Geographical Areas

2.7.25 Give the location of the head office and of any branch or regional offices, as well as the geographic region in which the organization operated.

The Research Triangle Foundation (RTF) is the owner and developer of Research Triangle Park, N.C., a research park housing research institutes and other businesses in Piedmont North Carolina.

Administrative history for the Research Triangle Foundation records

The Carolina Panel Company of Lexington, N.C., began manufacturing high-quality hardwood plywood in 1927 to devise the local furniture industry's demand for plywood.

Administrative history for the Carolina Panel Company records


2.7.26 Record the enabling legislation or other legal or policy instrument(s) that act as the source of authority for the corporate body in terms of its powers, responsibilities, or sphere of activities, including any significant changes in its authority and functions.

In 1959 the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated funds to the Consolidated University of North Carolina to establish a long-range planning effort for capital improvements. In September of that year, the Chapel Hill campus used $15,000 from the appropriation to create the University Planning Office, with Arthur Norman Tuttle Jr. as director.

Administrative history for the Facilities Planning and Design Office of the University of North Carolina records


2.7.27 Record information about the functions and activities performed by the corporate body being described.

Throughout the antebellum period, the faculty was responsible for enforcing social as well as academic regulations and for handling cases of student misconduct. After 1875 the faculty assumed an increasing role in establishing policies governing educational activities and the awarding of degrees by the University.

Administrative history for the General Faculty and Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill records

Administrative Structure

2.7.28 Describe the internal structure of the corporate body and the dates of any changes to the structure that are significant to the understanding of the way the corporate body conducted its affairs. Name any higher body(ies) having authority or control over the corporate body, or any corporate body(ies) over which it exercised authority or control, and describe the nature and any change of the authority or controlling relationship.

The Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Business was created 1 January 1970 as part of a major reorganization of the University's Division of Business and Finance. Among the units initially supervised by the associate vice chancellor for Business were the campus auxiliary enterprises, which included the Horace Williams Airport, the Carolina Inn, the Laundry, Student Stores, and the campus utilities. The associate vice chancellor also supervised the Campus Police (later named Security Services, then Public Safety Department), the Health and Safety Office, Traffic and Parking, and Purchases and Stores. The position later assumed responsibility for additional units, including the Food Service, other University conference centers (Quail Roost and the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Center), the Internal Audit Department, and Trademark Licensing.

Administrative history for the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Business of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill records

Predecessor and Successor Bodies

2.7.29 Give the facts of the relationship of the body with predecessor or successor bodies to its mandate, functions, or activities.

The University's Physical Plant Department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of campus facilities and grounds and for the provision of utilities. It was created in the mid-1930s to coordinate and oversee the functions performed by the previously separate Buildings Department and Groups Superintendent.

Administrative history for the Physical Plant of the University of North Carolina records

2.7.30 In cases of corporate or administrative amalgamations or mergers, name the administrative or corporate entities involved and summarize the nature of the amalgamation.</p>

In 1984, the Southern Furniture Manufacturers Association (SFMA) and the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers (NFMA) merged to form the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (AFMA). Headquartered in High Point, N.C., AFMA provides educational services to its member companies, a comprehensive public relations program to represent the industry to consumers, government relations to relay member interests to national agencies and officials, and statistical information about home furnishings manufacturing.

Administrative history for the American Furniture Manufacturers Association records

Names of the Corporate Bodies

2.7.31 Record any changes in the official name of the body not recorded in one of the other elements, any popular or common names by which it has been known, and its name(s) in other languages.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs was created in 1951 and was then called simply Vice President; subsequently it was called Provost, Vice President and Provost, Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research, Vice President for Academic Affairs (in 1964), Vice President for Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President, and Senior Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs (beginning in 1995).

Administrative history for the Office of the Senior Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of North Carolina (System) records

In 1900, Sidney Halstead Tomlinson founded Tomlinson Chair Manufacturing Company in High Point, N.C. The company became Tomlinson of High Point, Inc., in 1934.

Administrative history for the Tomlinson of High Point, Inc., records

Name(s) of Chief Officers

2.7.32 Record the personal name(s) of persons holding the position as chief officer of the organization or corporate body, if appropriate.

Frank Porter Graham (1886-1972) was the first president, 1932-1949, of the Consolidated University of North Carolina, which included the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina State College in Raleigh, and Woman's College in Greensboro.

Administrative history for the Office of President of the University of North Carolina (System): Frank Porter Graham records

Other Significant Information

2.7.33 Record any other important information not recorded elsewhere in the administrative history.

[1] The way in which the subelements are presented to users is a matter of institutional policy. Repositories may choose the order in which to present the subelements or whether to present them in a narrative format or in a structured format with each element introduced by an introductory word or phrase.

[2] While DACS generally discourages the use of abbreviations, the use of ca. and other abbreviations in birth and death dates follows the authority form as established in the Library of Congress Authorities.