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

DCRM(MSS) draft texts

Current version: Final draft for BSC approval, June 2016

Current status

The text is currently being reviewed by the Bibliographic Standards Committee. It has been reviewed by the Library of Congress, the Society of American Archivists, and the ALCTS Committee on Cataloging: Description & Access (CC: DA). The DCRM(MSS) wiki is being used to document ongoing progress. If testing the rules for local use, please feel free to ask questions, comment, or send a sample record(s). Contact the editorial team on the wiki or send a message to dcrm-mss@lists.berkeley.edu.

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