Finding Aids to Library Manuscript Collections

How Do I Utilize the Finding Aids to the Library's Manuscript Collections?

Finding aids vary considerably in size and detail. Some consist of annotated container (folder title) lists; but the container lists for most have extensive annotations following each folder title, indicating the subjects documented by the folder. Some finding aids also have scope and content notes which give an overview of the collection. In the future, as more staff time becomes available for descriptive projects, finding aids will be refined, and in time a comprehensive listing for the entire collection will be prepared.

Finding aids to Library collections are available to researchers through interlibrary loan. In requesting finding aids please identify the desired finding aids by title and series.

Because of the complexity of archival research, scholars should be cautious about attempting to conduct research off-site by relying on keyword searches. Researchers devising a preliminary search strategy will need to consider the functions of offices and individuals, the types of documents most likely to meet their needs, and the time frame of the event or issue they are researching.

Keyword subject searches can be useful for identifying some of the files critical to a researcher's subject, particularly if the files were originally created as subject files or in such instances when the Library staff has provided subject annotations following folder titles (such annotations are enclosed in brackets [ ]).

Many folders have broad subject titles (e.g. "Asia"), that relate to categories of documents or official functions (e.g. "Press Conference Transcripts"), that have chronological headings (e.g. "Correspondence, March 1955") or bear the name of individuals (e.g. "Douglas Dillon") and are more difficult to approach via straight forward keyword searching.