Locating Archival & Manuscript Collections

Locating archival and manuscript collections on your research topic can be difficult because collections are organized by creator rather than by topic. As a result, you will need to use a variety of indexes to locate materials pertinent to your subject. This guide is designed to help you navigate through our various search tools to find the documents that best fit your needs.

  1. Start with the Library Catalog.
    1. Location: Online at https://jlc-web.uaa.alaska.edu/client/en_US/uaf.
    2. Contents: This online database consists primarily of books, but also includes some archival and manuscript collections, historic film, and oral histories. It is keyword searchable and available from any internet connection. Note: not all archival and manuscript collections are indexed in the Library Catalog.
    3. How to search: To narrow your keyword search to primary documents, change the type field to "manuscript" (or "photograph" if collections comprised exclusively of photos is appropriate). 
    4. Viewing the Collection: Once you have identified a potentially useful collection, you will need to visit the Alaska & Polar Regions Research Room to view the material. Go to step 4 in this guide.
  2. Next try our Collections Keyword Index
    1. Location: On the bookshelf in the Archives Consultation Room, the first room you enter in the Alaska and Polar Regions Research Room.
    2. Contents: This index provides access to all archival and manuscript collections that are open for research.
    3. How to search: Use your keywords to find collections. You may have to try a variety of synonyms or variations to find relevant materials. The index lists MS (MANUSCRIPT) NUMBERS that correspond to brief descriptions of the individual collection found in the GUIDE TO MANUSCRIPT HOLDINGS.
  3. Finally, try our Guide to Manuscript Holdings.
    1. Location: On the bookshelf in the Archives Consultation Room.
    2. Contents: This 5-volume guide contains brief descriptions of our manuscript collections.
    3. How to search: Use your MS NUMBER to find the relevant description. Volume 1 contains MS-1 through MS-500 and volume 2 has MS-501 through MS-659. For these two volumes, the digit refers to an entry number, not a page number (i.e. Number “504” is located at entry 504 in volume 2). For descriptions in volumes 3-5, the MS NUMBER indicates the volume and page numbers (i.e. Number “v.3-109” is located on page 109 in volume 3).
    4. Viewing the Collection: If the collection is small, you may request the entire collection using the REQUEST FOR ARCHIVAL RESEARCH MATERIALS form. For larger collections, or if you are not sure if the collection has what you are looking for, you will need to look at the FINDING AID.
  4. Finally, try the Collection Finding Aids.
    1. Location: In the file cabinets in the Archives Consultation Room.
    2. Contents: Finding aids contain detailed descriptions of collections, including container lists to help you determine what box(es) to request. Some finding aids also contain biographical information about the creator of the collection and notes concerning arrangement, special restrictions, or related collections. Note: not all of our collections have finding aids.
    3. How to search: Use the collection title from the Library Catalog or the Guide to Manuscripts listing. The finding aids are filed alphabetically. Read through the finding aid to determine which record series (grouping of records, such as "correspondence" or "diaries") and then which containers might have the information you are looking for.
    4. Viewing the Collection: Use the REQUEST FOR ARCHIVAL RESEARCH MATERIALS form to request the boxes. You may request up to six boxes at one time.
  5. Copying and Using our Documents .
    1. Fill out a Statement of Intended Use Agreement form (PDF | DOC). If you intend personal or research use, please check the appropriate box. This form, once approved by the archivist, grants permission to you to use the images for your specified purpose as long as you follow the conditions listed and pay any applicable use fees2.
    2. Complete a Request for Photocopies3 for each folder or portion thereof. See the Reproduction Price List4for fee information.
      1. You must complete all name and location information on each form: collection title, box number, folder number, and folder heading.
      2. Do Not Remove the Item(s); use a paper flag to mark the item or section you want copied or check the box indicating "entire contents of folder".
      3. Due to staff and budget limitations, we may limit the number of photocopies per researcher per month. In no instance will we photocopy entire collections. For large or substantive copy needs, microfiche reproduction will be more economical.
      4. We will photocopy original material only if, in the opinion of the Archivist or Associate Archivist, the materials can withstand the copying process.
      5. All public use of documents must be properly cited. See our Citation Guidelines5, the (Chicago) Manual of Style, or the style guide most commonly used in your field for more information.

End Notes

1 Beige Statement of Intended Use and Purchase Agreement

2 Green Fees for Public Use of Images.

3 White Request for Photocopies

4 White Reproduction Price List

5 Yellow Citation Guidelines


This page was last modified on March 3, 2021