Frequently Asked Questions
Discovering Archival Materials
Glossary of archival terms
For further definitions, see the Society of American Archivist
Discovering Archival Materials
What is Archives and Special Collections at Rutgers?
Archives and Special Collections at Rutgers contains finding aids for archival repositories at Rutgers University. A finding aid is a guide to an archival collection and provides information about its creation, content, and how it’s organized. For further definitions, see the Glossary of Archival terms at the bottom of the page or the Society of American Archivist Glossary Terms .
What won’t I find?
Archives and Special Collections at Rutgers encompasses the archival holdings of Rutgers University Libraries, and does not contain:
- Cataloged books
- Commercially published CDs and DVDS
- Journal articles
- Other materials which can be found using the Library’s catalog
Some archival collections will not be found on this portal, but please use this form for further inquiries: https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/ask-archives.
How do I find materials?
- You can browse by repositories, collections, subjects, and names.
- You can enter a keyword, place, person, subject, collection title, or identifier (collection or call number) in the search box and click on the Search button.
- You can focus search by
- Keyword: Searches the entire text of the finding aid including title, scope and contents, creator, subject, and notes.
- Title: Searches titles of the materials described, including collection records and series and files within collections. If you know the precise title of the thing you’re looking for, searching by title can be very helpful.
- Creator: Searches names of the persons, families, and organizations who created the archival materials.
- Subject: Searches topics, places, and genres used to describe the context and content of archival materials.
- Identifier: Searches by a collection’s call number (a unique alpha-numeric string created by the repository).
- You can select a date span to limit the search results chronologically.
- You may construct more complex searches by adding additional rows. Click on the plus symbol ("+") on the right-hand side. You can select a date span to limit the search results chronologically.
How do I filter results?
The left margin of the results page allows you to filter your results
- With an additional keyword
- By date range of the items you are looking for
- By Repository
- By Type (of result)
- By Subject
- By Names
What should I know about phrasing my searches?
Within your search results
- You can enter Boolean searches. A Boolean search allows you to combine words and phrases using the words "AND", "OR", "NOT", in no particular order, for example:
- life AND career filter yields 7 records within the keyword search for Mary Lou Williams
- life OR career filter yields 24 results within the keyword search results for Mary Lou Williams
- You can enter a phrase within quotes. When you search within quotes the system will search that exact phase in the exact order, for example:
- "life and career" filter yields 2 results within the keyword search for Mary Lou Williams
Are materials available for download?
Available digital archival materials are indicated with a hyperlink. To inquire about obtaining digital copy, please use this form
Can I get a PDF copy of a finding aid?
Download a copy of the finding aid by clicking the 'PDF' icon in the top right corner.
How do I request materials? How can I reach an archivist?
Contact an archivist through the following form: https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/ask-archives.
How do I know which repository holds the collection I’m looking for and how do I get in touch with that repository?
After completing a search, look for the words 'Found in' in your results to see which repository holds the collection.
To contact the repository, please use this form: https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/ask-archives.
How to cite these materials?
You can easily cite the collection or materials by using the Citation icon in the top right corner.
Glossary of archival terms
For further definitions, see the Society of American Archivist Glossary Terms .
A finding aid is a guide to an archival collection and provides information about its creation, content, and how it’s organized. The level of detail in finding aids vary. Many finding aids list the creator, date range, and size of the collection, as well as the formats of collection materials (photographs, correspondence, film, diaries, etc.). ome finding aids may have a Container Inventory that describes groups of items within a box or folder. Occasionally, finding aids list individual items within a box or folder.
A repository is the institution responsible for long-term access and preservation of collections. Within Rutgers University Libraries are the following repositories:
- Rutgers University Archives
- New Brunswick Special Collections
- Institute of Jazz Studies
- Rutgers University-Newark Archives
- Special Collections in the History of Medicine
- Camden Special Collections
Archival collections consist of the records of an organization or the personal papers of an individual or family. Archival collections typically include unpublished, one-of-a-kind materials such as diaries, letters, sound recordings, films, and photographs.
A series is a grouping of often similar materials filed together by format, topic, or creator such as correspondence or financial documents.
Containers hold archival materials and can take many forms, ranging from boxes and folders to a slipcase or enclosure for a bound volume.
A folder is a single enclosure used to keep similar materials together. Folders are found inside a container.
An item is a single archival object found within a folder or container.