Have a question? Need assistance? Use our online form to ask a librarian for help.
When searching for materials related to presidential correspondence in the Library of Congress Online Catalog and in other repositories, there are several strategies that be be helpful.
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||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||Offers broader historical context of the collection 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 arrangement of the collection as processed by archivists.|
|Description of Series||hierarchical list of folder level description; includes microfilm reel number or container number of each file.|
Keyword search Library of Congress finding aids at 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.
When searching in the Library of Congress Online Catalog, you can limit your search results to materials held by the Manuscript Division by selecting "Advanced Search", and then "Add Limits", and finally "Manuscript" under "Location in the Library".(see screenshot below).
Authorized subject headings can be useful when searching in online catalogs. Subject headings include standardized topics, names, places, titles, and forms/genres of material. Subject headings like those listed below can help researchers get started and to perform searches in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.
Since there are twenty-three presidential paper collections, the below is not comprehensive but rather a selected list of broad subject headings related to the topic of presidential correspondence, including but not limited to:
Many presidents can be searched through a combination of names, “family”, and “correspondence”, including:
Keep the subject headings listed above in mind as you search the Library of Congress Online Catalog.