This article examines the analytical process in arrangement and description, and considers how the archivist arrives at an understanding of the records sufficient for contextualizing and providing intellectual access to them. The discussion characterizes the process of intellectual arrangement as one of identifying and/or creating the contextual relationships of a body of records, and it highlights certain common factors in the process, such as the historical standpoint of the archivist, the use of evidence, and the role of inference. Underscoring the speculative nature of the analytical process and the active role of the archivist in shaping the records, this article suggests ways for archivists to account for these aspects of practice on an individual, departmental or institutional, and professional level.

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