A finding aid, sometimes called an inventory, serves as a guide to an archival collection. It typically provides an overview of the collection, as well as a detailed description of its contents. Finding aids vary from collection to collection, but most include a collection summary; a history or biography of the creator; a list of subjects; a description of the size, composition, and organization of the collection; and a list of containers (boxes, folders, etc.) and their contents.
Not all collections have finding aids available online. Please consult the Duke University Libraries Online Catalog, the Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, and the Research Guides for additional collections.
How do I find a collection?
You can either search or browse for a collection on the Rubenstein Library Finding Aids Home Page. To search, type a keyword into the search box. To browse, click on any letter in the alphabetical browse list to view collections by author or organization. Authors are listed in last name, first name order.
How do I search within a finding aid?
You can search for keywords within a finding aid by using the search box on the right-hand side of each finding aid. You may also use the search function of your internet browser (Ctrl F). The search term will be highlighted by the browser and the cursor will be brought to the highlighted term. To find further instances of the search term, hit enter on your keyboard.
Finding aids are available as HTML pages or as PDF documents. To print the HTML page, use your browser's print feature. To print a PDF version, select the PDF option on the right-hand navigation menu of each finding aid. You will need to install Adobe Reader to view PDF documents if you do not already have the software. Once the PDF version is open, you can print it from your browser.
Many finding aids are lengthy; the number of pages in the document will be visible at the bottom of the screen.
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