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Research Guides

Guide to Research in Special Collections: Identifying materials: archival materials

This guide will show you how to search Special Collections materials.

Identifying materials: why it matters

When you make an appointment with us, you will be asked to provide information about the items you wish to view. If you are requesting archival material, the most important information is the collection and accession number and box number(s).  Collection and accession numbers help staff find where items are physically located so library staff can retrieve items for users. Providing the accession number helps ensure we can retrieve them in an accurate and timely manner.

Many collections contain multiple boxes (some even contain hundreds of boxes.) For this reason, it is important that the box number is specified, so we can be sure we are pulling the correct items for you.

This page will walk you through how to locate collection and accession numbers and box numbers within Archives West. If you still have questions after reading this page, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Identifying Materials in Archives West: Accession Numbers

When requesting archival materials in Special Collections, we ask that you provide as much information as possible namely the collection and accession numbers. In the first image below, the collection number is circled as it appears on Archives West. 

Some collections, including the one pictured, have multiple accessions. In this case, we ask that you specify which accession you are interested in so we can be sure we are retrieving the correct materials. Multiple accession numbers can be located by scrolling down the page on Archives West as circled in the second image below. 

Identifying Materials in Archives West: Box Numbers

In order to retrieve archival materials, we need to know the box number as well as the accession number. Box numbers can be located throughout finding aids on Archives West as circled below. Some finding aids are more detailed than others so it may be more difficult at times to locate the box(es) of interest. In those cases, please don't hesitate to ask us for assistance. 

Note: When finding aids list parts of the collection in the format of 1/1 the first number is always the box number and the second number is the folder number. Materials are typically retrieved by the box.

Finding aids can also be located when using the library catalog. The first screenshot below shows what the record for an archival collection looks like in the library catalog.

If you scroll down the page when looking at the record for an archival collection on the library catalog, the finding aid will be linked at the bottom of the page.