DCRM(MSS): Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Manuscripts)

CatalogingCoverCurrent status

DCRM(MSS) is available online as a free PDF.

PDF formatted for 8 1/2 x 11 in. paper: http://rbms.info/files/dcrm/dcrmmss/DCRMMSS.pdf

Front cover (color): http://rbms.info/files/dcrm/dcrmmss/cover.pdf

DCRM(MSS) will be added to LC Cataloger’s Desktop soon!

Note: An application for a Descriptive Convention Source Code “dcrmmss” was approved by the MARC Standards Office on September 28, 2016, but approval is followed by a 60-day waiting period for the code to be implemented. (In practice, it may take more than 60 days for OCLC to add the code to its validation tables.) Once the code can be used, it will be widely announced by the Bibliographic Standards Committee. In the meantime, do not use “dcrmmss” in 040 $e.


History and background

In 2004, the Society of American Archivists adopted as its cataloging standard Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), which focuses primarily on describing collections. As DACS was implemented in the archival community, a need was felt for a standard that would provide more guidance on the cataloging of individual manuscripts. After some discussion, the Society of American Archivists asked the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee to take on the project of developing such a standard, recognizing that the item-level description of manuscripts would benefit from a standard that bridges the ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic Description) framework of DCRM and the ISAD(G) (General International Standard Archival Description) framework of DACS. Accordingly, the Bibliographic Standards Committee formed an editorial team and charged it to develop the new standard as one of the DCRM suite of manuals. The team is using the text of DCRM(B) as its point of departure, but is drawing on DACS, Descriptive Cataloging of Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Manuscripts (AMREMM), Archives, Personal Papers and Manuscripts (APPM), and other manuals to help ensure full coverage of the issues raised by individual manuscripts in their various forms.

While DACS focuses mainly on manuscript collections, DCRM(MSS) provides guidance for the cataloging of individual manuscripts, picking up roughly where AMREMM leaves off in the early modern period.


DCRM(MSS) covers individual manuscripts on paper, on microfilm, or in the form of digital surrogates. It does not cover manuscript music, manuscript maps, or graphics, all of which are covered by other DCRM manuals currently in development or already published.

DCRM(MSS) editorial team

  • Alison E. Bridger, Archivist of Bibliographic Information Systems, Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Diane Ducharme (SAA liaison), Archivist, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Kate Moriarty, Rare Book Catalog Librarian, Saint Louis University
  • Jennifer K. Nelson, Reference Librarian, The Robbins Collection, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Margaret Nichols (chair), Rare Materials Cataloging Coordinator, Library Technical Services, Cornell University
  • Elizabeth O’Keefe, Director of Collection Information Systems, The Morgan Library
  • Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts, Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Bill Landis (ex-officio), Head, Public Services, Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University