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Manuscripts and Archives (Repository) Researcher Information: Find and Request

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.

 

Due to COVID-19, Manuscripts and Archives' hours, procedures, and available services have changed. The information on this page may not reflect these changes. Please see Resumption of Services Information for current guidance.

Guide to Special Collections at the Yale University Library

Additional and more detailed information on Finding and Requesting collection material from Yale University Library special collections is available as part of the Guide to Special Collections at the Yale University Library.

Finding and Requesting Collection Material 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 online finding aid in the Archives at Yale database (see box in the right-hand column).

Advanced searching in Orbis is the best way to construct targeted, sophisticated searches for our collection materials. 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 Archives at Yale

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.

Archives at Yale is the interface for searching Yale's finding aids, or guides to archival and manuscript collections. The help page for Archives at Yale contains instructions for searching and requesting materials.

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.

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 (203-432-1744) in using Archives at Yale to search for and request collection materials of interest in your research.