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Finding Aids Help

Help with Searching

Searches are not case sensitive.

There is no need to include "and" between terms. For example, simply input "seminoles claims" to yield pages containing both Seminoles and claims.

Use quotation marks to search for phrases. For example, simply input "university committee" to yield pages containing both words in that order.

To retrieve pages that include either one word or another word, use an uppercase OR between the terms. For example, inputting "Seminole OR claims" will retrieve pages that contain at least one of those words, but not necessarily both.

Exclude words from a search by putting a minus sign ("-") immediately in front of the term you want to avoid. For example, inputting "osceola -county" would retrieve pages containing Osceola but NOT containing County.

Truncation or wildcard searches are not supported. For example, searching for "elec" or "elec*" will not retrieve pages with "election" or "elected".

Stop words such as commonly used prepositions or articles are ignored. Such terms as "for" and "the" are disregarded. Use the plus sign ("+") to include stop words in your search, or input a phrase search surrounded by quotes. For example, inputting "lands +for you" will force the search engine to search for the stop word.


Help with Browsing

There are three ways to browse the finding aids:

  1. Browse by Collection Title
  2. Browse by Subject
  3. Browse by Collecting Unit

The "Browse by Collection Title" page lists all of the collections in the department that are available for research. This is a comprehensive list that is arranged alphabetically.

The "Browse by Subject" page lists many, but not all, of the department's archival records and manuscript collections, which have been grouped according to topical coverage. This is NOT a comprehensive list. Note that many collections are listed under more than one heading. Several of the finding aids to our collections currently are not available online. In these cases, there will a link to the page that includes an abstract of that collection. For example, the finding aid to the Stephens Family papers is not online, so whenever that title is listed it is followed in parentheses by a link to "Florida History Manuscripts".

The "Browse by Collecting Unit" page lists all of the collections in the department that are available for research. This is a comprehensive list that is grouped according to departmental unit responsible for the collection. There are several units within the department, including the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature, the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts, the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, the General Manuscripts Collection, the Rare Book Collection, and the University Archives. Some of these curatorial units further subdivide their lists, rather than presenting one comprehensive list for the entire unit. For example, the University Archives separates university records series and presidential records series and lists the collections on separate pages.


What is a finding aid?

Finding aids are descriptive tools such as guides, inventories, or catalogs, which are used to describe archival records and manuscript collections. Typically, a finding aid provides information about the creator, origin, scope, content, format, date range, and arrangement of the papers or records. Often, the finding aid includes a detailed container list that provides information about the folders or items in the collection. Most collections are described at the folder level, rather than at the item level. In addition to the container list, other common elements of the finding aid include:

It should be noted, however, that finding aids come in numerous shapes and sizes. Just as no two collections are exactly the same, finding aids rarely share all of the same components. Larger collections, for example, often have series descriptions and container lists, while small collections may not require any description beyond the Scope and Content Note.

Keep in mind that finding aids can only go so far in pointing out relevant sources for your research. Departmental staff members are familiar with these collections and can assist you in identifying useful archival records or manuscript collections.


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