A finding aid is a document designed to assist patrons who wish to use a manuscript collection for research. Finding aids give a researcher a glimpse into a collection. Typically, they describe various attributes of a collection (more about that below). Researchers use finding aids to help them better understand the contents of a collection and how it is organized. Researchers should keep in mind that the finding aid is not part of the collection; it merely describes the collection. In addition, the finding aid does not contain actual materials from the collection.
Like the collections they describe, a finding aid’s size varies greatly. The ones
posted here can range from one page to several hundred and typically contain the following
Usually includes the creator of the collection although it may include the compiler of the collection rather than a creator. Typically, if the material is related to a business or organization the collection will be called the Acme Records; if they are the papers of an individual, then the collection will be called the Mary Smith Papers. If, however, the collection contains only one type of material such as correspondence or scrapbooks, then the collection will be called the Mary Smith Scrapbook Collection or the Mary Smith Letters.
The creator of a collection might be an individual, family, civic organization, business, or other entity. In addition, an individual or organization may have gathered materials created by someone else.
Manuscript collection number:
The McCall Library assigns each manuscript collection a unique identifier.
Extent or size of the collection:
Size of a collection is usually expressed in linear feet, unless the collection is quite small, then it's size is described on the item level. For example, we might describe the size of a small collection of letters as "12 items."
Biographical or Organizational History:
Usually presented in narrative form, this section of the finding aid provides background information about the creator or creating agency. When possible, the creator's complete biography is included. The biographical or organizational history may include information found in the collection as well as in published sources.
Scope and Contents Note:
Describes the contents of the collection and should give the reader an idea of the kinds of materials in the collection (i.e., correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, etc.) The scope and contents note should highlight the strengths and/or weaknesses of a collection.
Access to some collections may be restricted either by donor request or so that the institution may adhere to privacy laws protecting, for example, personal medical history.
Please use the official collection title, including The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama, when referencing the collection in a published work.
The heart of the finding aid. It lists the box, folder number, and folder titles for the collection.
Absolutely, all images belonging to us must be credited to our repository. At the minimum we require our repository name to be used but also prefer that the collection name be included. We will furnish that information to the user. There may be an additional charge for providing caption information.