Glossary

Abstract
A written summary of the main points in a document; a type of periodical index that includes abstracts of articles.

Accession
The date when a record is accepted into an archive's collection.

Archeology
The search for, and interpretation of, artifacts, usually recovered from underground (e.g., grave goods, building foundations).

Archive
A repository, generally containing the retired official records of public or private agencies.

Authentic
Having a claimed and verifiable origin or authorship. Not counterfeit or copied. Genuine. Conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief.

Ballistics
By definition, limited to the study of projectile dynamics. In practice, extended to the study of bullets, and the functioning of firearms.

Bibliography
A list of writings relating to a given subject, including descriptions, identification of editions, dates of issue,and authorship, of books or other written material.

Chromosome
A DNA-containing linear body of the cell nuclei, responsible for the determination and transmission of hereditary characteristics. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes; the 23rd chromosome in males is an X/Y pairing, in females an X/X pair. The X and Y chromosomes determine sex.

Citation
A reference to a book, article, or other source, which provides enough information to allow someone else to retrieve the source.

Source citation
A note, footnote or endnote, identifying the original material.

Civil War
American war, fought from 1861 to 1865, between the "Union" North and the "Confederates" of seceded Southern states. (Also called: War Between the States, War of the Rebellion.)

Chromatography
Chemical analysis that separates components into various parts.

Concrete
A strong construction material made up of pebbles, sand, gravel, stone in a mortar or cement base.

Conservation
The act of preserving or restoring an object from loss,damage or neglect.

Copyright
A copyright protects an artistic or literary work.  

Craniosacral measurements
Measurements made of the skull to determine gender, race and age.

Deed
A document giving the holder the title to property. More generally, any document sealing an agreement, contract, etc. Deeds are used to determine who owned a property at a certain time.

Degeneration
The gradual deterioration and decline of an object's characteristics.

Dendrochronology
The dating of past events through comparison of successive annual growth rings of trees or old timber. Botanists, foresters and archeologists began using this technique during the early part of the 20th century. (Also called: timber dating, tree-ring dating).

Distilled Water Water that has been purified. It is often used to clean fragile items, as it has no mineral deposits that could damage the delicate fibers.

DNA, DNA analysis
DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) carries genetic information in the cell; the sequence of DNA determines individual hereditary characteristics. DNA analysis identifies an individual's unique genetic pattern, called a genotype. This information can be compared with other genotypes for purposes of identification.

Document examination
The investigation of documents to determine authenticity and/or authorship, generally including study of the signature, handwriting, and scientific analysis to detect alterations, reveal obliterated writing, study watermarks and other impressions, and evaluate ink and paper.

Ephemera
Printed material that was only meant to be used for a short time, but preserved by collectors. It could be anything from a bus ticket to a poster.

Forensic
Of or used in a court of law. Forensic often qualifies another, such as "forensic anthropology" (anthropological technique applied to people who die under mysterious circumstance), or forensic medicine (an application of medical knowledge to legal proceedings).

Historic, historical
Historic refers to something with an influence on history (a significant event, or moment that stands out in time). Historical means important in history (e.g., a historical home). These words should not be used interchangeably.

Historical research
The process of systematically examining past events to give an account; may involve interpretation to recapture the nuances, personalities, and ideas that influenced these events; to communicate an understanding of past events.

Humidity
Moisture or dampness. Complete saturation would be considered 100 percent humidity. An appropriate humidity for keeping antiques and
precious objects would be TK.

Lightfastness
Lightfastness is the degree to which a dye resists fading due to light exposure. Different dyes have different degrees of resistance to fading by light. All dyes have some susceptibility to light damage, simply because their strong colors are indications that they absorb the wavelengths that they don't reflect back.

Loose papers
Original legal documents (decrees, inventories, depositions, receipts, claims, petitions, etc.) usually gathered into packets related to one person or action.

mtDNA
mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) is maternally inherited without recombination and is not unique to an individual. It can be used for some forms of genetic identification associated with the maternal line.

Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
The first flexing of America's "Manifest Destiny," or the belief that American had God-given right to expand her borders. After Texas ceded from Mexican control in 1835, border fights continue to be waged and the American people began to develop sympathies towards the Texans, who finally joined the Union in 1845. The war was fought over border rights disputed by each side.

Muslin
A cotton fabric of plain weave, it is usually inexpensive. Its simplicity (dye-free, all-cotton), makes it ideal for conservators.

Paleology
The study of antiquities, especially prehistoric antiquities. The branch of archeology that studies fossil organisms and related remains.

Paper Analysis
A scientific study of paper fibers, additives, watermarks, surface treatments, and other physical properties, to determine the age and origins of a paper sample.

Patent
Granted by a patent authority such as the United States Patents Office, this protects an invention from copies and ensures primacy.

Petrography
The description and classification of rocks. Sometimes used in place of Ceramic Petrology, the study of ceramics by identification of rock and minerals in the clay. (Also called: geological analysis).

Polarizing Light Microscope
This microscope is useful in particle identification. Its use of plain and crossed polarized light, allows the scientist to examine the particular properties of an item at its most basic level, whether crystalline or cellular. It has been vital to the study of everything from crystals to fibers since its invention in 1828.

Preservation
Any act that seeks to preserve a record. This can be as simple as placing a record into an acid-free folder or restoring a photo
or document.

Primary sources
Original documentary evidence from a given historical period take many forms; photographs, drawings, letters, diaries, documents, books, films, posters, play scripts, speeches, songs, sheet music, and first-person accounts. (See also Secondary sources).

Property search
A systematic examination of historical documents and supporting evidence, in order to learn about the past of a building, and about its owners/occupants.

Provenance
The written documentation of an object's history, ownership transfers, and movements over time. Used to confirm authenticity of an object or artwork. Provenience refers to the actual place of origin, as opposed to the documentary record.

Radio Carbon Dating
This scientific method allows for the dating of very old objects by measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the object. Carbon has three main isotopes: carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14, of which only 14 is radioactive. As we understand how carbon-14 decays, with half the atoms disappearing over time, we can count the number of atoms remaining, compare it to the half life (5,730 years) and figure out how long ago it died.

Restoration
Attempts made to return an item to what is believed to be the original appearance. Restoration may result in changes that affect an object's perceived authenticity. Restoration can be one aspect of conservation. (See also conservation).

Secondary sources
Information sources created by someone either not present when the event took place, or removed by time from the event. Examples of secondary sources include journal articles, histories, and encyclopedias. (See also Primary sources).

Thin section
A very thin sample of rock or ceramic, ground to a standard thickness of 30 mm (sections used in conservation may differ). Thin sections are examined using polarized light microscopy. The standard thickness simplifies identification of components.

Trademark
A word, phrase or symbol that is unique to one product. Mr.Peanut is one example.

Victorian Crazy Quilt
A popular quilt during Victorian times it pieced together random fabrics in a carefully disorganized pattern, making it much different from the standard quilts that followed a very specific pattern.

Weapon dating
The process of determining the age, origin, and authenticity of weapons through the use of scientific tests (e.g. metallurgy), and supporting facts such as factory-codes, serial numbers, etc.