Collections of unpublished personal papers, organizational records, and historical photographs are described and inventoried in detailed guides known as finding aids. A finding aid helps the researcher to identify boxes or folders of interest with a manuscript or archival collection. A typical finding aid provides background information on the organization, person, or family who created the papers or photographs, an overview of the collection and its arrangement, and a detailed container list. Many, though not all, finding aids are available to view on the web (see Digitized Finding Aids). A complete collection of finding aids is available in Special Collections.
Research using manuscript material is different from more typical library research. The unique nature of the material dictates that there are stricter security procedures -- users need to register, manuscript materials need to be requested, personal belongings are placed in lockers, photocopying is limited, etc. The following tips can help you when using the manuscript material in Special Collections: