Using Archival Materials
Archives exist both to preserve historic materials and to make them available for use. In order to use archival materials, it is useful to know a little bit about how archives function and how we provide access. For more information on how we work, see What are Archives?
Since the materials in the Innovations in Jewish Life Collections are unique, the archivists in charge of caring for those materials strive to preserve them for use today and for future generations of researchers. As such, we provide access to the materials through several tools including the website you are currently viewing, which includes a broad overview of each our collections with links out to appropriate resources where available, and findings aids for processed collections. While finding aids do not exist for unprocessed collections, many have inventories that can be accessed through the archivists.
Finding aids, also known as finding guides, registers, or inventories, are tools created by archivists to help you navigate archival and manuscript collections. A finding aid describes and details the organization and contents of a collection. Reading finding aids, whether online or on paper, can help you efficiently identify relevant collections to your research and discover boxes or folders of interest within those collections. Finding aids...
This is a brief summary of the organization or person the collection is about and what you can expect to find in the collection.
Biographical Note or Administrative History
This section generally contains a biography on either the person or family (if it is a collection of personal papers) or history of the organization.
Scope and Content
This section explains what types of documents and other items can be found in the collection.
System of Arrangement
This section discusses how the contents of a collection have been arranged. Archivists strive to respect context, intention, and original order of the collection’s creator.
This section explains any restrictions concerning who may view the collection and how to access any restricted items.
This section states who donated the collection and when they donated the items.
This section contains information about how the collection was processed, by whom, and by what standards. If standards are not listed, CU finding aids will generally use the content standard called DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) and follow a DublinCore schema.
This section presents a detailed listing of what is in the collection. The inventory is often grouped into "series" and "subseries," especially in large collections. Series and subseries sometimes represent how the person or organization that donated the collection organized their papers. The inventory usually lists the titles of folders in the collection, but sometimes it will list individual items and sometimes it will list only titles of boxes.
Due to staffing levels, high instruction requests, and materials stored offsite, researchers must schedule an appointment in advance to use rare works and primary sources from all SCA collections including the Innovations in Jewish Life Collections. Please request materials well in advance of your desired appointment date. Be aware that we may not be able accommodate all requested visit dates, but will work with the visitor to find a date that will work for all parties.
When requesting material to be viewed in person, you will be directed to make an appointment with the Rare and Distinctive Collections (RaD) Reading Room. (See "Requesting Materials" above).
The RaD Reading Room (Norlin N345) is open to students, scholars, and members of the general public. All visitors must complete a short registration process and show a valid photo ID upon their first visit to the Reading Room. Visitors must be prepared to leave their belongings in a secured locker outside the reading room as only pencils, paper, and some electronic devices are allowed while accessing RaD collections. No food or drink are allowed.
Conducting research using archival materials requires paging through potentially hundreds of documents of watching/listening to hours of audio/visual media. Schedule ample time to conduct your research and schedule some additional time for the unexpected. Discoveries and new questions unearthed during research may lead you down different avenues than you had originally anticipated. Certain tasks—like deciphering hard-to-read handwritten documents or researching primary materials—may take more time. Also, consider the option of a return visit to the archives in case you need to verify information, check additional materials, or pursue something you had not thought of earlier.
Please see the Reading Room Policy for more information.