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Archival & Manuscript Finding Aids (ArchiveSpace) Help Guide

Help guide for using University of Florida Archival & Manuscript Finding Aids.

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Welcome to the University of Florida Archival & Manuscript Finding Aids help guide. The University of Florida utilizes a content management system called ArchivesSpace to store and display our archival and manuscript finding aids which can be accessed here.

If you have any additional questions about using our finding aids please contact us via e-mail or telephone at 352-273-2755.

What is a Finding Aid?

Finding aids are descriptive tools such as guides, inventories, or catalogs, which are used to describe archival records and manuscript collections. Typically, a finding aid provides information about the creator, origin, scope, content, format, date range, and arrangement of the papers or records. Often, the finding aid includes a detailed container list that provides information about the folders or items in the collection. Most collections are described at the folder level, rather than at the item level. In addition to the container list, other common elements of the finding aid include:

  • Collection Information - Title of the collection, date span, and name of the person, family, or organization responsible for the creation of the papers or records. Also, the extent of the collection is provided as a container count or as a measurement of linear/cubic feet.
  • Biographical/Historical Note - Biographical summary or organizational history, written as a narrative statement and/or a chronological listing, which establishes a context for the papers or records.
  • Scope and Content Note - A description of the collection, detailing its content, formats, and use. Generally, this note includes the most significant persons, organizations, events, and subjects represented by the collection.
  • Administrative Information - Information about how the collection was acquired, how it was processed and by whom, the arrangement of the material, and any access or use restrictions.
  • Series Descriptions - Some collections are organized into discrete sections according to function or format of the records (such as Outgoing Correspondence, News Clippings, or Meeting Minutes). These discrete sections, or series, often have their own scope and content notes describing the contents.

It should be noted, however, that finding aids come in numerous shapes and sizes. Just as no two collections are exactly the same, finding aids rarely share all of the same components. Larger collections, for example, often have series descriptions and container lists, while small collections may not require any description beyond the Scope and Content Note.

Keep in mind that finding aids can only go so far in pointing out relevant sources for your research. Departmental staff members are familiar with these collections and can assist you in identifying useful archival records or manuscript collections. If you have a question do not hesitate to contact us.

How do I search for materials?

How to search ASpace

  • Begin a basic search by entering your search terms in the search bar. You may limit the search by searchable fields, record type, and date.
  • The searchable fields are:
    • Keyword: Searches the entire text of the finding aid.
    • Title: Searches titles of the materials described, including collection records and series and files within collections. If you know the precise title of the thing you’re looking for, searching by title can be very helpful.
    • Creator: Primarily searches names of the persons, families, and organizations who created the collections. Please note that limiting by “Creator” will primarily search only creators of collections, not individual records or items within collections. Most creators are connected only at the collection level and not at series or file level records. Creators of series and file level records are usually included in the series or file title.
    • Subject: Searches by subject headings assigned to materials by archivists and librarians, e.g. Cuba.
    • Notes: Searches only the higher level collection information in the note fields such as the biographical/historical note or the scope content note.
    • Identifier: Searches by identifier (similar to a call number), which is a unique number by which materials are tracked and requested.
  • Record types allow you to customize the type of records you want a search to return:
    • Limit to collections will only return records for complete collections, rather than people, subjects, series, and files.
  • You may select a date span to limit the search results chronologically. Searching by date is approximate, and results may fall outside the date span you enter.
  • You may construct a more complex search by selecting the + icon and adding additional search parameters.
  • If you are interested in limiting your search to only collections that have digitized and electronic records, select this link to filter your search and then search within these results. For a more complete record of our digitized holdings and for a more in depth search consult University of Florida Digital Collections.

What should I know about phrasing my searches?

  • Searches are not case sensitive.
  • You may search for phrases by including quotation marks (e.g. “Civil rights”)
  • By default, searches with three or fewer search terms return results containing all of the search terms. Searches with four or more search terms return results containing most of the search terms. You may add OR and NOT to change this behavior (e.g. Stiles OR Morse or art NOT British).
  • You may add a tilde (~) to search for search terms within a specified number of words of one another (e.g. “maps Asia”~5 will return results where the term maps occurs within 5 words of the term Asia).
  • “Wildcard” symbols ? and * help return a greater number of relevant results by searching for variant spellings and forms of search terms simultaneously.
    • ? replaces a single letter in a search term (e.g. searching wom?n will return both women and woman, and searching archiv? will return both archive and archivy)
    • * replaces any number of letters at the end of a search term (e.g. searching mission* will return mission, missions, missionary, and missionaries)
    • ? and * may not be used as the first character of a word.
    • To use a wildcard in combination with another search term (e.g. wom?n suffrage), use the + icon to create another row and enter each search term in a separate row.

How can I filter my search results?

How to filter

  • Once you’ve done a search and are on the search results page, you can use the filter pane on the right side of the page to further limit and customize search results.
  • You may use the filter pane to filter by subjects, language, and names.
  • You may also use the search bar at the top of the filter pane to create additional searches within the search results.
  • If you are interested in limiting your search to only collections that have digitized and electronic records, select "electronic records (digital records)" to filter your search and then search within these results. For a more complete record of our digitized holdings and for a more in depth search consult University of Florida Digital Collections.

How do I navigate the site?

How to navigate

  • To begin a search, use the search bar on the home page. You can also click the magnifying glass icon on the top banner to begin a search.
  • To see a full alphabetical list of collections, click Collections on the top banner. 
  • To see a full alphabetical list of subjects, click Subjects on the top banner.
  • To see a full alphabetical list of names, click Names on the top banner.
  • The Classifications tab is a feature that allows you to browse finding aids that have been grouped by the major collecting areas held by the University of Florida as well as other subject groupings.

How do I read the page for a collection or an item?

How to read ASpace

  • After navigating to a collection page you will be presented with information about the collection
  • In the upper left corner you can find the collection name and unique collection identification number
  • There are three main pages within a collection page that can be selected as blue buttons on the upper left hand side of the page:
    • The "Collection Overview" page is the default page you will be presented with after viewing a collection. It primarily allows for an overview of collection description information at the highest level
    • The "Collection Organization" page is the easiest way to navigate the series, folders, and items found within a collection inventory.
    • The "Container Inventory" page is useful if you would like to view the contents (usually folders) of each container (usually a box) within the collection
  • The collection description section contains most of the higher level collection descriptive information including things like biographical/historical notes, scope content notes, dates, creator, access and use restrictions and more
  • On the upper right hand side of the page you can find three buttons
    • Use the Citation button to generate a formatted citation for the material you are viewing. Citations can be generated at all levels of a finding aid, including at the folder or item level.

    • Use the PDF finding aid button to access a fully formatted PDF of a finding aid. PDFs can be accessed at all levels of a finding aid. NOTE: ArchivesSpace has trouble loading for larger collections, please contact public services special@uflib.ufl.edu and we can generate one for your from the backend.

  • On the lower right hand side you can use the search box to search within the collection inventory to find specific folders or items. You can also browse by expanding and contracting the series outline (an easier way to browse the inventory can be found by clicking the "Collecting Organization" button on the left hand side)

How to read a collection or an item page?

  • When using the "Collection Overview" page, be sure to click the "Expand All" button at the bottom of the page. This will reveal a lot of useful information about the collection including things like links to alternate language finding aids, digitized material from the collection, processing notes, subject headings and names, related collections, and other important notes about the collection.

How do I request materials?

To request materials from a collection, please contact our public services staff via email (special@uflib.ufl.edu) or telephone us at (352-273-2755).

NOTE: Researchers are encouraged to contact public services at least 5 business days in advance of their visit to ensure materials are available for use. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval. This is usually noted in the “Additional Information” section of the finding aid.

COVID-19 NOTE: Due to impacts from the global pandemic, we are trying to fulfill research needs virtually as much as possible.

For more detailed information about using collections see the guidance provided here.

Does this website include all archival materials at the University of Florida? What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?

The University of Florida Archival & Manuscript Finding Aids database does not include all archival materials at the University of Florida. Materials not included here are:

  • Most unprocessed collections, meaning collections that have recently come to the University that have not yet been inventoried. Contact the individual collecting unit that the materials may reside in to learn more.
  • The East Florida Papers Index (see index)
  • The Florida Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection Index (see index)
  • Florida Historical Map Collection (see index)
  • Some microfilm collections including the Stetson papers, Florida Legajos from the Archivo General de Indias (AGI) and others.
  • Some Map and Imagery Library materials
  • Some materials only available on UFDC

Are there any limitations/issues I should be aware of?

There are currently a few known technical issues/limitations when using the ArchivesSpace system:

  • The Mozilla Firefox browser has issues navigating the "Collection Organization" page. This issue is not present when using other browsers like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge
  • Some functionality is limited when using mobile phones, particularly when navigating the "Collection Organization" page
  • When generating a PDF version of a larger finding aid it may take several minutes to download. Please contact us via email (special@uflib.ufl.edu) or telephone (352-273-2755) if you have any issues
  • Not all digitized items are present in the system, for a more complete search, use the University of Florida Digital Collections website here.
  • When limiting searches by date, please note that searching by date is approximate, and results may fall outside the date span you enter.

Glossary of terms and symbols

Archives are materials created or received by a person, family, or organization that are preserved because of the enduring value of the information they contain.

Collections are groups of materials assembled by a person, family, organization, or repository. They may be divided hierarchically into series, groupings, and files.

Containers are anything that houses or stores archival materials. A container might be a standard size archival box, an oversize box, a broadside folder, or a media case.

Digital records are born-digital and digitized materials that are available online.

Finding aids are guides that allow users to discover, understand, and access archival collections. Finding aids describe the creation, arrangement, content, and context of archival materials.

Name records are the people, families, and organizations that create archival materials. In UF Archival & Manuscript Finding Aids, users can view name records to see all of the collections created by a person, family, or organization. Name records are shared across all libraries at the University of Florida, and staff choose them from controlled lists, including the Library of Congress.

Subject records are topics, places, and genres used to describe the context and content of archival materials. In UF Archival & Manuscript Finding Aids, users can view a subject record to see all of the collections relating to that topic, place, or genre. Subject records are shared across all libraries at the University of Florida and staff choose them from controlled lists, including FAST and the Library of Congress.


Use the Citation button to generate a formatted citation for the material you are viewing. Citations can be generated at all levels of a finding aid, including at the folder or item level.


Use the PDF finding aid button to access a fully formatted PDF of a finding aid. PDFs can be accessed at all levels of a finding aid.

Click the Digital Object button in a folder to view the digital version of the folder or item.

What if I have questions? Where should I go for help with this system?

If you have questions about a specific finding aid or using the system, do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail or telephone at 352-273-2755.

What about the old Finding Aid Website?

The University of Florida has migrated away from our older web based/html page system for displaying our finding aids to using a content management system called ArchivesSpace. 

 

What is ArchivesSpace?

ArchivesSpace is a web-based archives information management system, designed by archivists and supported by diverse archival repositories. It is an open source, web application for managing archives information.  The application is designed to support core functions in archives administration such as accessioning; description and arrangement of processed materials including analog, hybrid, and born-digital content; management of authorities (agents and subjects) and rights; and reference service.  The application supports collection management through collection management records, tracking of events, and a growing number of  administrative reports.  The application also functions as a metadata authoring tool, enabling the generation of EAD, MARCXML, MODS, Dublin Core, and METS formatted data.

Why the change?

The migration to ArchivesSpace from our older finding aid website offers major improvements in search and browsing capabilities, report generation, streamlined workflows and presentation, the greater ability to integrate with other archival software, as well as a more standardized system which has been widely adopted by hundreds of universities and libraries both nationally and internationally.

 

 

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