The work which has led to this publication has now occupied several years. This is perhaps an inevitable consequence of a project of synthesis and consensus. Highly experienced cataloguers from a wide range of institutions have gathered to pool their knowledge, discuss problems and to reach a common solution. When the draft of these Rules was circulated for comment, there was a very encouraging response. Over forty individual archivists and institutions found the time to read and consider it in great detail. The editorial working party is grateful for their efforts which have helped to improve the final version immeasurably.
The years in preparation have not been wasted. Parallel labours of the International Council on Archives Ad Hoc Commission on Descriptive Standards, which have resulted in the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)), (1994), and the International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (ISAAR(CPF)), (1996), provide a more analytical context in which these Rules have their part to play. We are grateful for the support which has been forthcoming from Chris Kitching, Chair of the Ad Hoc Commission.
Over the same period, the provision of new funding in the higher education sector, in particular the creation of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), has accelerated the development of common standards for data exchange within the archival profession. A coherent and valuable series of seminars and workshops, organised for the most part by Patricia Methven and Angela Raspin of JISC and Michael Moss and Lesley Richmond of the Scottish University Special Collections and Archives Group, has invariably found room for contributions from members of our editorial working party. We have been encouraged by a general recognition of the central role for future national name authority files which these Rules underpin.
The National Council on Archives has given its name, prestige and financial backing to this work. Despite the pressure of other business, time has been found in a busy agenda for regular reports from its IT Committee. These have been well received and we are particularly grateful for the support of Alice Prochaska, Vic Gray, Nick Kingsley and Penny Brook.
The remit of the NCA extends to the whole of the United Kingdom. This has been invaluable in the formulation of the Rules where personal, place and corporate names each must address problems posed by separate Welsh, Scottish and Irish usage. Special acknowledgement must be made to the contributions of Gwyn Jenkins, John Watts-Williams and Dafydd Ifans of the National Library of Wales, of Patrick Cadell, Ishbel Barnes and Ian Hill of the Scottish Record Office, Ian Cunningham of the National Library of Scotland and Anthony Malcolmson and Gerry Slater of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
The Rules are designed for the consistent construction of proper names in the description, cataloguing and indexing of British archives. Central to this work is the belief that they should apply to all archives, those of Government as well as private accumulations. With the firm support of Sarah Tyacke, several members of staff at the Public Record Office have assisted with the work. Geraldine Beech has prepared at short notice the section on foreign place names. Trevor Chalmers, Nicholas Cox, David Crook and Meg Sweet have given freely of their time and expertise.
The project has for the most part been co-ordinated and hosted by the Historical Manuscripts Commission. With the constant encouragement of the Secretary and the Commissioners, several past and present members of staff have made a valuable input. They include Jim Parker, Kevin Morgan, Mary Ellis and Una O’Sullivan.
Mention should also be made of the support from the professional bodies represented on the NCA. We are particularly grateful for the help provided by Elizabeth Shepherd of the Society of Archivists and by Adam Green and Margaret O’Sullivan of the Association of County Archivists.
Inevitably in a project of this kind, the main burden of work has fallen on a few individuals. It has been a considerable labour to arrange and co-ordinate the working parties, to draft and redraft reports and the Rules themselves, to word process and edit this final version. Without the hard work, intellectual rigour and commitment of the editorial working party, this publication would not have been completed. All are busy professionals involved with important automation projects in their own institutions, yet they have devoted vast amounts of their own time to this work. If, as we hope, these Rules will perform a central role in the future standardisation of archival descriptive practices and the harmonisation of automated finding aids, the credit must go to my colleagues, Louise Craven, Sue Donnelly, Susan Healy and Rachel Stockdale.