Skip to Main Content

Rayfield (University) Archives

Your guide to all things ISU history! Search this guide for helpful research ideas, links to our online publications and resources, scheduling a class, and much more!

What is an Archival Collection?

Homecoming ScrapbookUsing 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.

Archives Terms

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.


Researching at the Archives - What to Expect

Researching 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

Reading Room Policies

We ask the following when researchers visit the Rayfield Archives Reading Room:

  • The Rayfield Archives is open by appointment only.
  • All patrons must register prior to using materials.
  • Food and drink (including water) are not permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Cell phones must be set to vibrate or turned off.
  • All materials not needed for note taking (purses, satchels, coats, hats, etc) must be checked-in with staff upon registration.
  • Only pencils and paper or a laptop are permitted for note taking. Ink in any form is not permitted in the Reading Room.  Digital photographs of materials are allowed on a case-by-case basis. Please ask a staff member for further assistance.
  • Materials are not available for checkout and cannot leave the Reading Room.
  • Please leave materials as they are found.  If pages are stuck together, or an object appears to be in distress, please ask a staff member for assistance. Rubbings, tracing, or marking of any kind on materials is prohibited.
  • For some items and collections, cotton or nitrile gloves will be provided. It is requested that patrons have clean, freshly washed hands before they use the materials.
  • A photocopier is available but it does not accept cash or cards. The first 20 pages are free. After that, copies are $0.10 each page. All materials must be photocopied by a staff member unless otherwise indicated.
  • The University Archivist will consider requests for limited reproduction of materials when such duplication can be done without injury to the materials and when duplication does not violate donor agreements or copyright restrictions.  PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PERMISSION TO PUBLISH.