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Manuscripts and Archives Researcher Information  

This guide provides a variety of information for researchers using the reading room and collections of Manuscripts and Archives, in Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University.
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2014 URL: http://guides.library.yale.edu/content.php?pid=548555 Print Guide Email Alerts

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Finding and Requesting Collection Materials in Orbis

Important Note: Most Manuscripts and Archives collections are stored at the off-site Library Shelving Facility (LSF) in Hamden. You should place requests at least 2 business days in advance of your visit to our reading room to ensure that your materials are available when you arrive. There are no deliveries from LSF on weekends.

Orbis is the Yale University Library's online catalog and serves as a powerful tool for finding information about the collections housed in Manuscripts and Archives. Books, periodicals, microfilm, and Holocaust testimonies are the principle materials from our collections that are cataloged at the item level in Orbis. Our archives and manuscript collections typically receive only collection-level cataloging in Orbis, with a link to more detailed descriptions of collection creators and contents in the accompanying online finding aid in the Yale Finding Aid Database (YFAD).

Advanced searching in Orbis is the best way to construct targeted, sophisticated searches for our collection materials in Orbis. Consult the online help for basic information on advanced searching in Orbis. The following can be especially effective in focusing advanced Orbis searches for our collections:

  • Limit Location to Manuscripts and Archives (SML)
  • Limit Type to Archives or Manuscripts

Additionally, including Genre/Form terms such as oral histories or diaries as a component of a search strategy is often a useful way to focus a keyword search on specific forms or genres of material across all collections within the Yale University Library.

Books, periodicals, microfilm, Holocaust testimonies, and other individally cataloged items from the Manuscripts and Archives collections can be requested directly form the Orbis record once you've found something you want to use in our supervised reading room. The request process is expedited by a link from the Orbis record to your Aeon special collections account, which you set up when you complete our online registration process. The image below illustrates where to find the Request link in an Orbis record. 

A reference archivist is available in the Cowles Reference Center in Manuscripts and Archives whenever we're open. We'll be happy to assist you in person or by phone in using Orbis to search for and collection materials of interest in your research.

 

Finding and Requesting Collection Material in YFAD

Important Note: Most Manuscripts and Archives collections are stored at the off-site Library Shelving Facility (LSF) in Hamden. You should place requests at least 2 business days in advance of your visit to our reading room to ensure that your materials are available when you arrive. There are no deliveries from LSF on weekends.

The Yale Finding Aid Database (YFAD) serves as the central place to search finding aids for archives and manuscript collections held by many Yale special collections repositories, including Manuscripts and Archives in Sterling Memorial Library.

Finding aids are tools that describe in varying levels of detail the contents of archival and manuscript collections. By linking collection contents to information about the containers that house those contents, finding aids are a key component of access for researchers who wish to request and use those collections. Finally, because it is important to understand the context of the accumulations of materials that typically comprise an archival or manuscript collection, finding aids provide information about collection creators--individuals, families, and organizations--and the functions and activities that caused the materials in the collection to be created, accumulated, maintained, and used over time.

Although YFAD does give users the ability to target searches to specific fields, the most effective way to search Yale's finding aids is using keywords. The YFAD Help page provides a very useful overview of strategies for searching.On the Advanced Search form the NEAR option is an excellent way to search for a multi-word term, such as civil rights (civil NEAR rights), in a way that will eliminate many false results from finding either of those terms by themselves or associated with other terms. 

Once you've found finding aids for specific collections of interest, one easy way to do more diligent searching within a single finding aid is to use the Printable PDF link in the navigation bar above the finding aid to generate a PDF version of the finding aid that can be keyword searched using Adobe Acrobat or another PDF display utility. The navigation bar PDF link is illustrated below.

Links are provided that permit a researcher easily to request boxes directly from the online finding aid. In the example illustrated below, a researcher interested in collection materials on redwoods and Muir Woods contained in several folders in Box 65 would click on the Request Box 65 link, which populates a request form in the researcher's Aeon special collections account. This is the account you create when you complete the online registration process. Once you've logged into your Aeon special collections account, you simply need to select the date on which you are planning to come in and use the requested material, and submit the request. Be aware that while you are limited to 10 active requests at a time, you can keep as many requests as you like in review, allowing you to move them into active status as you finish using boxes you're requested.

As with Orbis, a reference archivist is available in the Cowles Reference Center in Manuscripts and Archives whenever we're open. We'll be happy to assist you in person or by phone in using YFAD to search for and request collection materials of interest in your research.

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