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Conducting Research in Special Collections

Searching Finding Aids

Manuscript collections include personal, professional, and family papers; business and organizational records; and other unique, typically unpublished historical documents in a variety of formats, from scrapbooks to correspondence to digital media. Each collection is most commonly described by a finding aid, a guide to a collection and its contents. Our finding aids are available online through ArchivesSpace at the University of Arkansas.

For guidance on using our finding aids to make requests for materials, please view our tutorial videos on using finding aids in ArchivesSpace.

Searching the Library Catalog

All of the published materials in Special Collections--rare books, Arkansas items, historic maps, broadsides, university publications--are available to request through the Libraries' catalog. Items ca be requested directly from the catalog, either from the Special Collections homepage or the main Libraries site. Published items can be found and requested from your Aeon account. 

  1. Once a Special Collections item found in the Library Catalog you want to request, you can select blue button at the top of the right-hand menu that says: "Special Collections Request." 
  2. Requesting a Special Collections item from the catalog opens the Aeon interface. Sign-in or create an Aeon account.
  3. Indicated the dates you will visit the department to access the item.
  4. Press Submit to save your request.  

Daisy Bates Search

Searching for an Archival Collection

Searching with keywords or exact titles of an archives will return the record from the Library Catalog. Here we see the returns when searching "Daisy Bates Papers."

In the Library Catalog record for the Daisy Bates Papers, there is a link to the finding aid. Note the blue button on the upper right that says "Special Collections Request." Click on that button to open the Aeon client interface.   

Bates Memoir

Requesting a Book through the Catalog.

You can also use the Library Catalog to request books and other published materials from Special Collections. These items will often indicate a copy held in the Arkansas Collection or the Rare Books collection, as well as possible copies in other locations.

Click on the blue button that says "Special Collections Request." If other request options are available for copies held in other library areas, the "Special Collections Request" button will be on the bottom. 

The Aeon log-in window will open after you indicate a 'Special Collections Request."

Logging into Aeon

Once you have followed the button in the catalog to make a request for Special Collections material, the Aeon log-in spin will appear. Log-in to complete your request. 

Navigating ArchivesSpace

When you search on a subject or individual from the Special Collections archives search portal, and you find a finding aid, you will select a detailed description with organization of the archives' containers in Archives Space.

In addition to the essential elements of the finding aid, Archives Space provides tabs to view three areas:

  • Collection Overview: Background on the origin of the collection and of rights and access issues.  
  • Collection Organization: how significant portions of the archives have been grouped 
  • Container Inventory: detailed inventory with links to further description of each box contained in the archives. 

Finding Aid Bumpers

Reading the Elements of a Finding Aid

All of the archival collections available to researchers in Special Collections have been given "finding aids" to help researchers and understand and access the different materials in the archive. 

Important elements of the finding include:

  • Scope and Collection Note (What subject areas are included in the archive)
  • Dates (general date range included in the entire collection)
  • Language
  • Access and use information (If any portions are restricted, notice of that is given here.)
  • Biographical Note (background information on the individuals or groups related to the materials in the archive)
  • Extent (overall size of the archive)
  • Description of the organization and grouping of the primary portions of the archives.
  • Inventory of the all of the containers available to be requested.