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Welcome to the Historical Medical Library's finding aid database! Here you can access detailed catalog records of our archival collections.

You will find a direct link to the Library's catalog, where you can request specific boxes from collections you want to look at during your research appointment, in each finding aid.

New to archival research? Here is some useful vocabulary to remember:

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a detailed catalog record of an archival collection and will include the call number; creator; dates of the materials; subject headings; biographical notes; description of materials included; and a container list (an inventory or list of boxes and folders), which will list the materials contained in each box.

What are collections?

"Collections" are 1) a group of materials with some unifying characteristic; or 2) materials assembled by a person, organization, or repository from a variety of sources.

What are record groups?

A "record group" can be considered a group of collections that share the same "provenance" (created by the same person or group of people). At the College, we use record groups to separate the collections of administrative departments (such as Library, Museum, Executive Office).

How are collections described?

Collections are described in finding aids. Some finding aids describe a collection in general, without an inventory or list of contents. Frequently, you will find a listing of series, sub-series, and folders. Some very detailed finding aids will list individual items.

Most archival collections organized into groups of similar materials called "series", and sometimes further organized into smaller groupings called "sub-series". Series and sub-series are often ordered by subject (e.g. "Administration" or "Medical institutions"); form (e.g. "Correspondence" or "Photographs"); or date. Organizing collections into series and sub-series makes the contents easier to search through and find relevant material.

Some tips for searching our finding aids:

  1. When searching using phrases or names, be sure to put the phrase or name in double quotes ("anatomy acts" or "Silas Weir Mitchell").
  2. Searches will return collection-level, series-level, and folder- or item-level results, which can be filtered on the right-hand side of the page. "Archival records" will give you results of only series, sub-series, folders, and items.
  3. Selecting a collection from the search results will take you to the main body of the finding aid. To best view the inventory of the collection, click on the red bar where it says "Collection Organization." You can scroll down and see all of the items found in the collection.
  4. To request items from the Archives to look at during your research appointment, please follow the link to the Library catalog by clicking "External documents" located in the "Expand All" section of the finding aid. Once in the catalog, you will be able to log in and request specific boxes from collections.

We are working on making this finding aid catalog more user-friendly. Please let us know if you have any issues or suggestions when making your research appointment.