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Special Collections for ENGL 2201: Manuscript Finding Aids

Why Finding Aids?

A finding aid is an inventory of a specific collection of materials. It describes the different parts of the collection and their relationships to one another, as well as providing background information. Finding aids also provide a detailed list of a collection’s contents, usually in the form of a folder list. The finding aid enables you to see exactly what items we have and to request them by box number and folder title when you make an appointment. Some of our finding aids are online; others are in print only.

The East Carolina Manuscript Collection contains nearly 1,800 collections of historical documentation including correspondence, diaries, business records, organizational records, church records, maps, genealogy notes, and photographs, plus some 210 original oral history memoirs. Guides to many of these collections are available here online, with over 750 of these guides being very detailed. Manuscript collections can also be found by searching the online catalog.  Guides to records in the University Archives are also available and can be found here.

Locating a Collection Guide

There are two main ways to find our manuscript guides, either through the online catalog or via the East Carolina Manuscript Collection's online search page.

Finding guides via the catalog

All of Special Collections' manuscript collections have records in the library's catalog.  They can be found by setting a limit on your catalog search of "Manuscript Collections" in the "broad material type" drop-down box. Once you have located the catalog record for a collection whose guide you would like to review, simply click the "finding aid" link.

Finding guides via the East Carolina Manuscript Collection's online serach page.

Here you can use a simple search box to keyword search for manuscript collectionsor browse for collections by title, creator, subject, repository, or geographic location.

Interpreting Finding Aids

The online finding aid contain a lot of information including:

  • Descriptive summary (a note on the creator, the size, and the location of the collection along with a brief abstract)
  • Administrative information (such as preferred citation and accession information along with any usage restrictions)
  • Description (usually gives a short boigraphical note along with a deeper description of the collection than provided than the abstract)
  • Subject headings (just like in the library catalog)
  • Container list (a list of the items contained within the collection itself, some lists are more detailed than others)

Making Your Request

When you find some items the container of your selected guide that you would like to view in person, selecting them is easy.  Simply click the "Request Material" tab at the top of the guide page, click the check box for the item(s) that you would like to see, and then click the "Submit Request" button.  This will send you to a confirmation page where you can set the date for your visit and then forward the information on to the Aeon request system.