Open Government at the National Archives

Organization Descriptions from the Online Catalog xml

What is the data?

This dataset contains a highly detailed presentation of the evolution of names and administrative histories of Federal and non-Federal organizations. It is used by the National Archives and Records Administration to track the organization that created records, and as a source of access points for indexing archival descriptions and/or other authority records with consistent headings.

Learn more about Authority Sources.

How do I access the data?

The organization file is compressed because of the size. Use WinZip or a similar program to extract the contents of the file. The compressed file contains thousands of XML files.

The following data file represent the Online Catalog organizational descriptions available through March 13, 2013.

Organization Descriptions from the Online Catalog (OPA) (83 MB) xml

Organization XSD

Technical documentation provides details on what XML tags are used.

* Please note these files are zipped. You'll need to use Winzip or a similar program to unzip.

Why was this data selected?

In addition to a presentation of agency name changes, organizations name authority records display complicated hierarchical structures of Federal agencies, establish and abolish dates (when known), references to Federal statutes creating and/or abolishing agencies, descriptions of the agency's role and responsibilities, and references (as controlled headings) to geographic places, program area terms, and high-level staff members.

What high value criteria does it meet?

Access to organization descriptions can be used to further describe archival descriptions in the Archival Research Catalog, and:  

  • can be used to increase agency accountability and responsiveness
  • improves public knowledge of the agency and its operations
  • furthers the core mission of the agency
  • creates economic opportunity
  • responds to need and demand as identified through public consultation

Is this the first time the data is available?

These archival descriptions are published in the Online Catalog. This is the first time the data is available as raw data in XML format.

Who may be interested in this information?

Researchers, veterans, family historians and genealogists, academics, and records managers.

Who do I contact if I have questions about this data?

E-mail: search@nara.gov


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