How to Use a Finding Aid

A finding aid is a tool for discovery.  In an archive, it is the first place to go to learn about a set of records or a collection of personal papers, documents or manuscripts.  Finding aids are designed neither to duplicate a collection, nor serve as a substitute for one.  Rather it serves as a guide to a collection by informing researchers about its  creator, scope and content.  The goal is to enable a researcher to make an informed decision if it merits closer inspection.

We designed our finding aids to deliver this information in a robust, yet simple and efficient, manner.  You will notice that all ACU finding aids follow the same basic format and include the same types of information organized into three sections: 1) About this Collection, 2) Using this Collection and 3) an Inventory.  Each collection is assigned a unique manuscript number (e.g. MS #1) and are listed in order by these numbers and in alphabetical order according to the subject or creator of the collection.  All of our archival collections are cataloged in the ACU Library online catalog and in Worldcat.

“OK, so I downloaded the finding aid and read through it. I found something I want to know more about…now what?”  Contact us to set up an appointment to view the items in person or arrange for content delivery by email or postal mail.  Consult our Digital Scholarship Center site for costs of photocopying and scanning.  It is that easy.  Should you have additional questions, we are only a phone call or an email away.