The Archives houses over 500 individual collections, from personal papers to institutional records, totaling nearly 14,000 feet of records and manuscripts. You may be asking yourself, “How in the world can anyone hope to find what they are looking for in such a vastness?” You may even be awestruck when an archivist is able to quickly locate an item. Are archivists wizards? Do we spend too much time with the collections? While the answer to both questions may be “yes,” the truth is that we have a trusty means to locate a needle in the stacks. We have finding aids.
But what is a finding aid and how does one use it? Simply put, a finding aid is a detailed description on what is contained in a collection. It is an inventory of all the materials residing in any given collection, with supplemental information about the collection’s history and nature of its organization. It may be lengthy and meticulous in its descriptions or terse and blunt. It may even offer links to digital copies of the collection. Continue reading “The Archivist’s Nook: Finding Your Way Around the Collections”