How to use collection guides

What is a collection guide?

A collection guide (also known as a finding aid) is a detailed record of an archival collection. Collection guides help researchers explore the contents of a collection and decide if it's helpful for their research.

What kind of information is in a collection guide?

  • Collection Summary provides an overview of a collection, including its title, collection number, and creator
  • Biographical or Historical Note provides the context or background information of a collection
  • Scope and Content Note provides a short description of the collection's contents (scrapbooks, photographs, letters,etc.)
  • Organization or Arrangement provides information about how the contents of a collection are arranged. This note will also list the subgroups or series within a collection, if applicable
    • Series and subgroups are sections in the guide that organize content, usually by topic, material, or format
  • Restrictions provides information about any portion of a collection with restricted access
  • Subjects or Access Terms reflect the predominant topics represented in a collection
  • Administrative Information provides information about the acquisition and use of a collection
  • Container Inventory provides an inventory of the materials arranged by a unique box and folder system. These details help us find what you're looking for.

How do I view collection guides for Special Collections?

Collection guides are linked from every collection page that has an associated guide. Explore our collections.

Do all collections have a collection guide?

No, some collections do not, but we do provide research assistance if you need help finding what you need within a collection.

How else can I find out what is within a particular collection? 

You can search the website for your topic, which will search all our our collection overview pages. These pages contain narrative descriptions, a link to the collection's guide, and information on formats (photographs, ephemera, etc.) included within a collection. 

You can also search ArchivesSpace, our database of collection descriptions and finding aids.

Or you can search our library catalog and limit your search results to library Special Collections. You can also limit type of material to Archival Resources.

What if I don't find the collection I am looking for?

You can also search for your topic on Arizona Archives Online.

Arizona Archives Online is a state-wide database containing descriptions of archival materials about the history of Arizona and the Southwest. It includes holdings from academic libraries, historical institutions, special collections libraries, museums, and other libraries and archives in Arizona.