Locating Archival Collections
The Tamiment Library holds more than 2,000 archival collections of personal papers and organizational records. Identify relevant collections for your research project using the methods described below.
Search Finding Aids
Archival finding aids (also known as guides) are documents that describe the scope and contents of archival collections, explain any use restrictions, give provenance information, and place the collection in context with a historical note. See container lists for detailed information on the contents of the collection.
You may search across the library's finding aids to find personal papers, organizational records, photographs, printed ephemera, and oral history collections in the Tamiment Library that pertain to specific individuals, organizations, or subjects on the Finding Aids Search page.
Effective Searching: You'll get the best results with the finding aids search if you are flexible and try variations on your terms. You will be searching across the full text of the finding aids but (currently) not the access points (Library of Congress Subject Headings) that appear in the document. Put multiple word phrases in quotes (e.g., "child labor"). When searching for an individual, try searching on just the last name and also try searching on the first and last name together in quotes. Or try adding a keyword to a last name to narrow down results.
Search results will include short abstracts of collections with your search term. Click on "show occurrences" to see where you search term appears in the finding aid. If the collection looks promising for your topic, click on the title of the collection to read the full finding aid.
The container list will allow you to identify the specific boxes in the collection that are relevant to your topic. Request them at the library's reference desk.
Note that some collections are stored offsite. Offsite locations are indicated both in the online finding aids and in notes adjacent to a collection's entry on the full list. Please note that we require 48 hours' notice to retrieve boxes from offsite storage.
Browse Collection Lists
Browse alphabetical lists of the library's holdings on our Collections List / Finding Aids page.
Try a "Control F" search on the name of an individual, organization, keyword, or collection call phrase (PE 030, for example) to find specific words in the list of collections.
Note that some collections are stored offsite. Offsite locations are indicated both in the online finding aids and adjacent to a collection's entry on the full list. Please note that we require 48 hours' notice to retrieve boxes from offsite storage.
Search BobCat, NYU's Library Catalog
BobCat contains records for all of the library's cataloged materials. There are item-level records for books, serials, and pamphlets, and collection-level records for archival materials, oral histories, microfilm sets, photographs, prited ephemera collections.
Collection-level records describe groupings of material as a whole. If an archival collection consists of 150 boxes, for instance, there will be just one record in BobCat describing the entire collection. Follow the links in the BobCat records of cataloged collections to read detailed finding aids for the collections.
To find cataloged archival collections in BobCat, set the first search limit to Archival Materials, and enter the name of an individual, organization, subject, or keyword, and press Go. Then, narrow down search results by using the facets at the left of the screen to select by author/creator, subject, genre, date, or library collection (e.g., Tamiment Library's holdings). Follow links, where available, to electronic finding aids for processed collections.
N.B. Please note that not all of the archival collections in the library have been cataloged in BobCat.
Consult Research Guides
Learn about tools and resources that will help you use the Tamiment Library's collections effectively on our Research Guides page. You will find collection lists, subject-specific research guides, links to databases, and other resources to help with your research. In particular, see the guides for:
Contact the Library
Archivists and librarians can help you navigate library holdings and help streamline your research. They will also alert you to any restrictions that may affect your use of particular materials.
Note that almost every special collection holds unprocessed, uncataloged collections as well as processed collections that may be described in a paper finding aid, inventory, calendar or other document that is available only by visiting the library. Contact library staff to find out about the availability of specific materials.
Researchers must obtain a Tamiment Library reader's card before using archival materials. To get one, fill out a registration form at the Tamiment Library Reference Desk and present a photo ID. Then, after using finding aids to determine the boxes and folders of a collection that contain relevant information for your topic, submit an archival request form at the Reference Desk to request materials.
N.B. Some collections are stored offsite and we will require 48 hours' notice to retrieve boxes. Others have been microfilmed and may be borrowed via interlibrary loan.
See the Using Archives & Manuscripts LibGuide for additional information about using archival collections.
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