University of Arizona

Using Collection Guides

What is a collection guide?

A collection guide (also known as a finding aid) is a detailed record of an archival collection. Finding aids are created to help researchers get an idea of what’s in a collection so that they can figure out whether it will be useful 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
  • 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 List provides a listing of the storage units that contain collection materials and facilitates retrieval

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 contain narrative descriptions as well as information on what format (photographs, ephemera, etc.) are included within a collection.

You can search our library catalog and limit your search to location Special Collections. You can also limit format to Manuscripts.

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 state-wide database of detailed 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.