Understanding Finding Aids

Finding aids are documents prepared by the archives that contain information about the material for a specific fonds or collection.  They are the archival equivalent of a library catalogue. Finding aids are used by researchers to determine if the records in the collection or fonds hold information that is significant to their research.  They are prepared in accordance with archival descriptive standards.

Title and statement of responsibility screen capture.
  1. The title of the fonds is usually the name of the individual, family, organization or unit within an organization that creator the material.
  2. The general material designation describes the different records types you will find in the fonds.
  3. Level of description provides the level of granularity of the description being viewed. Description grow more specific as their arrangement grows more specific. Please review the organization of archival material page for more information.
Scree capture of finding aid.
  1. The dates section provides the date range for the material in the fonds.
  2. The physical descriptions describes the types of material in the fonds. This can range from textual records to architectural drawings, photographs or cartographic material, to name a few.
  3. The archival description area includes the history of the organization or person, information about who held the material prior to the archives and how the material came to the archives.
  4. The scope and content area includes information about the subject matter of the material as well as how the material is organized.