Finding aids are guides or inventories of the contents of archival collections that allow researchers to quickly survey across wide swaths of records to easily find relevant material. Researchers can use the sections of finding aids, described below, to hone their search towards their research needs.
Browse through finding aids to see descriptions of archival collections:
Biographical or Historical Information
The Biographical or Historical Information note provides a history of the organization, person, or family that created or accumulated the material described in the finding aid. In the case of an organization, the note describes the structural and functional responsibilities and any administrative changes relating to records transfers. This information provides researchers with information about how the materials were created.
Scope and Content
The Scope and Content note provides a summary of the intellectual content of the materials, the types of records to be found, any gaps or deficiencies, and any items of special note. This note may also describe the function and use of materials or the types of information contained therein.
The Dates element often contains two distinct dates: a created date and a bulk date. The created date indicates the dates when the collection materials were created. The bulk date identifies if a majority of materials fall within a smaller date range than the created date.
The Collection Organization describes the intellectual arrangement of the materials. This may be a narrative statement or also include a hierarchical list of subgroups, series, or subseries by which the materials are organized. Series are groupings of materials arranged systematically or maintained as a unit because they relate to a function or subject. In some instances, a series will also contain groups of related material that can be arranged as sub-series to further organize the collection.
The Container Inventory is a box and folder listing of the materials described by the finding aid and refers to their physical arrangement. In some cases, such as with oversized materials, the items will be housed in a separate container than other items in the same series.