This guide will help you discover the rewards of doing archival research, which can be different than doing research in a general library collection. You'll find guidance on identifying and using archival collections at Mount Holyoke and beyond. To get started, consult the Society of American Archivists publication Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research.
Use ArchivesSpace to read detailed collection descriptions (also called finding aids) for manuscript and archival material in Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.
Reading Collection Descriptions
Collection descriptions, inventories, or guides can help you determine whether a particular collection will be useful for your research. These descriptions may be available through catalogs, databases, research guides, or other finding aids. If an online guide is not available, contact the repository for further information.
Questions to Consider
A finding aid serves as both the table of contents and index of an archival collection. It will help you determine whether the collection has material of interest to you, and, if so, where that material is located.
Finding Your Way Through Finding Aids: Archives 101
This excellent guide from Dorothy Berry, the Digital Collections Program Manager, at Harvard University's Houghton Library, provides information on what a finding aid is, what's in it and what is not, and how to read a finding aid. Although some things are Harvard-specific, many are general.
Using Finding Aids
A guide to using finding aids from San Diego State University, with a nice introduction to the types of information you will find in each section of the finding aid.
About Finding Aids
This guide to archives in Chicago provides an overview of what a finding aid is.
How do archivists organize collections?
This blog post from the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives discusses how and why archivists organize materials the way they do.