A finding aid provides a detailed description of a collection by summarizing the overall scope of the content, conveying details about the individuals and organizations involved, and listing box and folder headings. Special service conditions are noted, including terms under which the collection may be accessed or copied. Links are provided to digitized content, when available.
See the table below for a description of each section found in a finding aid.
|Section in Finding Aid||Definition|
|Collection Summary||An overview of the collection, giving research information such as the full title, the dates the collection content covers, the language(s) the collection is in, the location it's stored, and a summary of collection contents.|
|Selected Search Terms||The terms listed under this heading have been used to index the description of a collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person or organization, by subject or location, and by occupation. They are listed alphabetically within each section.|
|Administrative Information||Gives researchers information on how the Library obtained the collection, other divisions that have content from the collection, the location of additional resources or indexes relating to the collection, details about copyright and donor-imposed restrictions, and the preferred format to create a citation for the collection.|
|Biographical Note||Puts the collection into broader historical context and often provides a timeline of important events that relate to the collection's content.|
|Scope and Content Note||Provides a history of the relevant events relating to the collection, gives an overview of what the collection content is about, and highlights notable items or correspondents in the collection.|
|Arrangement/Organization of the Papers||Describes the order that the collection was put in by the archivists who processed it.|
|Description of Series||This section describes the contents of each box in the collection on a folder-level basis.|
You can keyword search the finding aids at the Library of Congress by going to findingaids.loc.gov.
When you open findingaids.loc.gov, all Library of Congress finding aids are searched by default. Researchers can narrow their search to finding aids for manuscript collections only. Find the drop-down menu, "Within Library of Congress Collections", select "Manuscript" to search only Manuscript Division collections.