Using archival collections for the first time can be intimidating!
What is a finding aid? How do you search through the archives boxes? Can you have a laptop with you while you research?
Check out some of our advice and tips below to help you learn how to navigate your way through an archives collection.
Finding Aid - a robust inventory of a collection of files, documents, physical and digital objects, and other materials that can be found in a given collection. The finding aid serves as an inventory for the researcher to find relevant materials. The finding aid also serves Archives staff by providing 'intellectual control', or, the ability to know what exactly is in the collection, how it relates to other collections in the archive, and where materials in a given collection can be physically located.
Processing - the work that archivists do to organize, preserve, and make accessible archival collections.
Records vs Papers - a collection of 'records' usually pertains to an administrative entity. Colleges, departments, centers, and schools on our campus make records of their work in the form of meeting minutes, correspondence, budget documents, and publications. A collection of 'papers' usually consists of the work of a single person or non-administrative group. For the Rayfield Archives, a collection of papers generally are those of a faculty or administration member.
Repository - the Rayfield Archives is an archival repository, a place were collections on all of ISU's history is stored. Because of the private and sensitive nature of documents like student records, health records, employee records, and University Counsel, these files are not stored at the Rayfield Archives.
Ready to use the resources at the Rayfield Archives but don't know where to start?
1. Many of our popular resources are online! Click the link to see all of the publications, web exhibits, photographs and more that are available at your fingertips!
2. You want to dig deeper and see what our archival collections have to offer. Have a look at our Archives Finding Aids Database tutorial below to learn how to research our many finding aids.
3. Ready to visit? No problem! Let us know what you'd like to see when you schedule your research appointment with one of our Archives staff members. Also, be sure to find out where we are located - we are not on campus!
Reading Room Policies
We ask the following when researchers visit the Rayfield Archives Reading Room:
Illinois State University
Campus Box 8900
201 North School Street
Normal, Il 61790-8900