Archival resources are unique and the tools for discovering them can often be just as unique. Uncovering the best archival resources for your research will likely take a little more work than library catalog searches for published, secondary sources. Follow these tips to track down archival resources at other institutions.
Many institutions create collection level catalog records for their archival collections. You can discover these cataloged collections using WorldCat or ArchiveGrid.
Start your search by entering a keyword, title, author, or subject in an Advanced Search and narrow your search by "Format" to "Archival Material."
No matter how archives describe their collections and provide access, odds are they have some kind of information online that will be picked up by Google. It may not sound like normal advice from information professionals, but it doesn't hurt to "Google It."
Try entering the name of your subject followed by "archives," "papers," "records," or "collection."
If you are researching a lesser known individual, organization, or topic try repeating Step 1 and Step 2 for more widely known individuals, organizations, or topics that are closely associated with yours. Once you find closely related material, visit the archives website and dig deeper in their finding aids and discovery tools. If you still can't find anything, call the archives staff to see if they know of any extant resources on your topic or can provide some leads.
Archivists develop a wealth of knowledge about the collections in their holdings and related collections available at other archives. We regularly learn about new archival resources as we talk to researchers, attend conferences, read professional literature, and consult with our colleagues. Tap into that knowledge base by talking to archives staff. Our Archives at Southeastern staff are ready and willing to be your first points of contact with the broader community of archivists, so stop by our offices or give us a call (919-761-2329).