The author is director of the University of Michigan Vatican Archives Project. This project, which created a computer-based access system for the Vatican Archives, represents the first attempt to apply the USMARC AMC format to a major European archive. User accessibility was the ultimate goal of the project. The database, which was built upon fundamental archival principles, includes two elements: a complete listing of all Vatican agencies over time with a historical description of the agency emphasizing its functions; and a complete set of record series descriptions. The project raised several larger issues regarding the application of new technology and the possibilities of scholarly collaboration in the design of archival access systems.

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