Northwestern University Library has launched a new archival and manuscript collections portal. The portal offers access to a growing body of finding aids for collections in the University Archives, Special Collections, Africana, Music, and Transportation libraries, as well as the medical school and law school libraries. The finding aids may be searched by keywords and/or browsed using a number of facets, including titles, subjects, creators (both individuals and organizations), libraries, and NU school/category.
The searchable finding aids facilitate research of primary source materials held by Northwestern University. The portal contains more than 450 finding aids to date. Additional content is being uploaded on a regular basis, including both legacy finding aids for existing collections as well as new finding aids created in the Library's archival information system. Once the legacy finding aids have been completed, the site will include more than 1,000 collections.
What is a finding aid? Like the index or table of contents to a book, the finding aid is a guide to the collection. Each finding aid provides information about the creation and historical context of a collection, explains how it is organized, and outlines its contents, so that a user can identify and request the materials relevant to his or her research. Finding aids may vary in style and amount of detail; some contain links to digitized versions of documents or images, but in most instances a user must come to the library to view these non-circulating collections.