How do I find out what is in a collection?
The contents of special collections are described in a variety
of ways, including:
To gain a general understanding of the kind of material you can
expect to find in a particular special collection at Yale, select
the appropriate link below.
For a list of some of the most important published guides to Yale's
collections, consult A
Selected Bibliography of Printed Catalogs of Collections in the
Yale Library. The list is not exhaustive and special collections
staff can direct readers to additional published guides.
See the Library's online tutorial Overview
of Primary Source Materials: How Yale Describes its Collections to Researchers
for tips on how to search for primary source material in Orbis and the card
NB: not all Yale collections are represented in Orbis.
The brief descriptions of archival collections that are found in
the catalogs are often supplemented by finding aids or inventories
that may include information to the level of individual folder headings.
Many, but not all, of Yale's finding aids are now available in machine-readable
form, and a full-text database of their contents can be searched
over the web. For more information consult the Yale
University Library Finding Aid Project. Additional archival
finding aids are available in paper form at various special collections
Special catalog tools
In addition to archival finding aids, Yale librarians have created other special
catalog tools to identify rare and special materials by form or genre or to
provide access to specific kinds of information about the collections: e.g.
tracings for bindings, provenance information, imprint files, etc. A list of
these special tools as well as instructions for using them can be found at Special
Consultation with archivists and curators
In many cases, archivists and curators know much more about particular
collections than can be included in catalog records or finding aids.
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