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What are accession numbers?

All artifacts in the museum are assigned a UNIQUE “accession number.” The ten digit accession number is made up of three parts:

  1. The year the item was added to the inventory. (Four digits)
  2. The accession sequence (Three digits.) This number represents one or more related items that are being added to the inventory at the same time. The items are related because they came from the same donor, connect to the same event, etc. Each year the accession sequence for items being added to the inventory starts at 001.
  3. The catalogue sequence. (Three digits.) When adding a new accession sequence, the first catalogue number for that accession sequence is 001.

For objects in the existing collection whose accession is known the number will reflect the date acquired.  Other objects where the time of acquisition is uncertain, the number will reflect the earliest date that the object can be proven to have been in the museum.

Research collection

Documents in the research collection will be numbered according to subject and location, as is archival custom.

Educational collection

The educational collection along with reproductions will be numbered sequentially beginning with 1, this number being used for inventory purposes.

Determining a new accession number

If you are adding an item that is new to the Museum, you will be assigning the next higher accession number. Visit the Filter by accession number page. There you will see the earliest and the latest accession numbers. Make a note of the highest accession number that has already been assigned and assign the next number according the the rules above.

If you need to assign an accession number for a previous calendar year (e.g. 2015), proceed as follows:

List all numbers already assigned

On the Filter by accession number page set the lower filter limit to 2015000000 and the upper limit to 2016000000. Click the Submit button. All of the items that have accession numbers beginning with 2015 will be listed in accession number order.

A new or unknown donor

You need to determine the next accession number for 2015. To do this you will need to know the highest accession number that was assigned in that year. Navigate to the last page of the listing and you will see the last 2015 accession number. Assign the next number according the the rules above.

An item related to an existing donor

Search for that donor, retain the year and the three (donor) numbers and select the next number in that donor’s group (the last three numbers).

Marking policy

All objects in the museum will be marked with a unique number in the following manner:

  • Paper documents will be marked using a soft pencil.
  • Fabrics will have fabric tags sewn inside and marked with permanent pen.
  • All others will have a small section covered with neutral clear varnish on which the marking will be written in ink and protected with a second layer of varnish.

Markings are to be placed in an unobtrusive location and are only meant to provide internal museum identification and accordingly they are to be removable if warranted.

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