Researching a Topic in Four Easy Steps:
Step 3a: Consider using alternate types of material - Manuscript and Archival
Manuscript and archival materials are unique resources that can be found in
only one library or institution (though copies may be available elsewhere on
microfilm or microfiche.) Generally speaking, manuscript collections relate
to individuals or family groups while archival collections are generated
by organizations or institutions. "Manuscript" originally described any handwritten
item, but the format of manuscript and archival materials now is diverse and
may include letters and diaries, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, objects,
computer tape, video and audio cassettes, etc. The size of a collection may range
from a single document to hundreds or even thousands of linear feet.
You might want to use manuscripts/archives:
- for historical or sociological research
- as primary
- to be in the most direct contact with the creator or the event
Manuscript and archival materials are held at various Yale libraries, many
of which are described on the Special
Collections at Yale page. You can search for manuscript and archival collections
in Orbis by setting limits to your search. Click on the More Limits button
on the Orbis search screen and highlight "Archives and Manuscripts"
from "Item Type." For more help on limiting searches, see the Orbis
The Orbis record for a manuscript collection provides a brief summary of the
content and extent of the collection. Click on Long View in the Orbis
record to see more detailed information about the collection. The Orbis record
also usually directs you to a "finding
aid", a document that provides more detailed information about the collection.
Many of the finding aids for manuscript and archival collections at Yale are
now available in fulltext on the web, through the Yale
University Library Finding Aid Database; other finding aids are available
only in paper format at the repository.
See the Yale
University Manuscripts and Archives Tutorial for tips on getting started
on research at Manuscripts and Archives in Sterling Memorial Library.
For information about finding manuscript and archival materials beyond Yale's
collections, see Locating
materials at Yale and beyond: Archival Collections.
Back to Researching
a Topic in Four Easy Steps
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This file last modified 05/17/06
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