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Burns Library Services


Search Burns Archives (Archival Collections)

Reference & Instruction Services at Burns Library

Finding Archival Material

Archival description, sometimes referred to as a finding aid, is data about collections that researchers can use to determine if the collection holds information that is significant to their research. Archival description can be used like a table of contents, but also includes contextual information such as collection acquisition and processing, provenance, scope (size, subjects media), and organization and arrangement.

Search Burns Archives is a tool that allows you to search a detailed inventory for one collection, or across detailed descriptions of all archival materials held by Burns Library, allowing researchers to build a relevant request list for research visits or copy requests.

If you know who/what you’re looking for, you can browse and  search within an alphabetical list of all collections held by Burns LIbrary, and the names of all creators, collectors, and donors/vendors associated with these collections.



However, for the most robust search of Burns archival holdings, we recommend searching the entire collection. To do this, 

  • Enter your search terms

    • Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) are accepted, but you can add rows for more complex searching

    •  truncated searching (nurs* for nurse, nursing, nurses) is accepted

  • Leave at Keyword or choose what other fields to search (Creator, Identifier) 

  • Limit your results to the date range (From year / To year) you are seeking

    • Note: Archival collection dates can be very broad, so very specific/narrow date limits often eliminate results

Search results are a combination of Collection Records, Name Entries (people and organizations), Series/Subseries/Files, or Digital Records. You always have the option to refine your search (1), or filter by searching just the results (2), limiting the results by year, or filtering by record type, language, or names.


Collection overviews provide contextual information (dates, scope and contents, creator, language(s), restrictions, biographical notes, extent, etc.) as well as additional information that can prove helpful (arrangement, provenance, availability of digital copies, related collections, separated materials, processing notes).


Collection organization information is displayed at the right, where you can drill into series, subseries, and files.


Selecting any link from Collection Organization gets you to more detailed holding information, where you can add material to your request list

You can also use the Collection Organization Tab to get to the full description



Select the PDF print button for a downloadable and printable version of the finding aid. 


We continue to make incremental improvements and additions to this system, and look forward to your feedback. To let us know what works or what doesn’t, please use the  Send Feedback or Report a Problem link in the bottom right of the  Search Burns Archives page.