A note on ACRS “audit history”

[First posted on July 5, 2018, at rgr-cyt.org.]

In my previous post I noted that a field in the metadata form (RIF) had been changed at some point in the early 2000s for a number of records in the JFK Assassination Records Collection (ARC). This change made it a very difficult task to identify a number of records in the Mary Ferrell collection of ARC records, a pity if you are trying to squeeze the maximum use out of the great MF collection.

Today, however, I stumbled on a somewhat roundabout way around this problem. It also illustrates an odd little corner of the Assassination Collection Reference System (ACRS), NARA’s online database of finding aids for the ARC, so it’s worth a short post.

The ACRS it turns out has an “audit history” link at the bottom of every record screen. Here is an example for one of the records I cited in my previous post, 104-100010-10015:

Click on the link at the bottom of the page and you will get the following view:

The audit history screen shows the comment field change discussed in my previous post, in which the original date-time string 1993-05-17- was changed to 20031124-1016188.

The problem with using the audit history function is that it is not possible to search the ACRS for a specific date-time string in the comment field. You will have to identify the CIA records with revised date-time strings on your own, and click through the ACRS audit history of each of them in the until you find the one you are looking for.

I should note that this is not a totally ridiculous task; there are many clues you can use to narrow down the field of records to search. The point is that the audit history function means we need not depend on finding an old rif form in the MF collection to get a match between a new rif number and an old rif number. A diligent search should eventually turn up the correct match.

[Revised 6 July 2018 to improve screenshot]