Indiana University Finding Aids

Archives Online Help

What is available on Archives Online?

Archives Online at Indiana University provides descriptions of archival collections, specifically finding aids. A "finding aid" describes and provides an inventory of primary source materials (manuscripts, papers, pictures, etc.) in a collection at one of the repositories at Indiana University, such as the Lilly Library or the Indiana University Archives.


You can search for collection descriptions from anywhere on the Archives Online at Indiana University site by using the search form in the top right corner of the site under the banner image. This searches across all repositories for your search terms anywhere in the collection description. Searching is also available from the Home page and allows you to specify the repository in which you would like to search. If no repository is selected, your search is conducted across all repositories on the Archives Online at Indiana University site.

Search and Advanced Search include options which allow you to construct searches that are as broad or precise as necessary. It is possible to do "simple" searches on a single term or phrase and "advanced" searches on up to three terms or phrases joined by the qualifiers AND, OR & NOT. In both Search and Advanced Search, there are seven options by which a search can be restricted to particular parts of the encoded collection description or to specially tagged information. The search options are: anywhere in collection description, creator, names, subject, collection no., collection title, and contents list. The option selected can affect the results achieved by the search.

  • Anywhere in Collection Description - default option, searches the entire text of the collection description and is the broadest type of search
  • Creator - searches for personal and corporate names that have been explicitly tagged as the originator of the collection for a collection description; found primarily in the "summary information" section of the collection description
  • Names - searches for personal (lastname, firstname) and corporate names that have been explicitly tagged in the collection description; found primarily in the "controlled access" section and in lists of significant correspondents included in the Additional Descriptive Data section of some collection descriptions; tagged names represent only those which the processing archivist deemed most significant for a particular collection; not every name mentioned in a collection description has been tagged.
  • Subjects - restricts the search to terms that have been specifically tagged as "subject terms" in the "controlled access term" section, as well as all terms tagged as names and places
  • Collection No. - provides a quick way to retrieve a specific collection description if the library collection number is known
  • Collection Title - restricts the search to terms in the title of the collection or the name of the collection creator
  • Contents List - searches the series or items from the collection that are described in the collection description

As noted, most of the searchable name and subject terms are included in the "controlled access terms" section of the collection description. The terms are formed according to Library of Congress Subject Headings, Library of Congress Name Authority File or other thesaurus or authority file. In Indiana University archival collection descriptions the controlled access terms are assigned by a cataloger who has determined the collection includes significant material relating to the term. A result in the controlled access section simply means that somewhere in the collection there is material relevant to the name, subject or form and genre term.

In addition, searches can be conducted within a single repository. If a repository is not selected, your search is conducted across all repositories on the Archives Online at Indiana University site.

Advanced Searches

Advanced Search allows you to search on up to three terms or phrases joined by the expressions AND, OR and NOT. The terms in an advanced search are entered into separate text boxes and are operated on from left to right. This means some care must be taken in formulating the search. For example, if you wanted to find collections with television or radio scripts, the search should be television OR radio AND script. The search engine will first search for all collection descriptions containing either the phrase "television" OR "radio." It will then search the retrieved set for the phrase "script." The revised set will be retrieved, duplicates will be eliminated and the final results displayed.

Search Results

The initial results of a search will be presented as a list of all collection descriptions in which the search term(s) was found. The total number of results retrieved is displayed at the top of the page. For large sets, results are displayed 20 at a time. The results list is arranged by relevance to the search conducted. The result for each collection description retrieved includes the collection title and up to the first 3 snippets of full text where the search terms appear within the collection description. In addition, some or all of the following information is also be available: date span, collection creator, holding repository for the collection, the call number for the collection, and an abstract of the collection content. Search results can be sorted by relevance, collection title, repository, or collection dates.

Each result includes a linked title and linked search terms in context that can be used to enter the collection description.


You can browse collection descriptions alphabetically by creator, subject, and repository name. For each browse entry, the total number of collection descriptions associated with that creator, subject or repository is shown next to the browse entry in parentheses. The results for a browse entry by creator or subject will sort by relevance to the browse entry but you can also sort by collection title, repository, or collection dates. When browsing by repository, results will be sorted by collection title but you can also sort by collection dates.

The Home page also offers access to browse by repository. Select a repository name from the list of collections and you will see a brief description of the holding repository followed by a link to browse the collection descriptions within that repository.

Collection Description Displays

Standard View

This view presents an outline of the collection description and the intellectual organization of the contents list in a left side navigation area. The standard view is the most suitable view for browsing through a collection description. The left side navigation includes links to the main sections of the collection description, such as Summary Information, Administrative and User Rights, Biography/History, Collection Scope and Content Note, Controlled Access Terms, Contents List, and Additional Descriptive Information. The Contents List includes links to the major subdivisions of the collection description, typically subgroups and series or series and subseries. Each of the links in the left side navigation retrieves only that portion of the collection description.

Entire Document View

This view retrieves the full text of the collection description as a single document. You can move through the collection description with the scroll bar or page-up/page-down keys or use the left side navigation to narrow down to smaller sections of the collection description, similar to the Standard View.

Printer-Friendly View

This view shows the full text of the collection description without the web site banner and navigation and without the left side navigation for easier printing that will use less paper.

Items Online View

Some collection descriptions include digitized items available online. These items can be accessed within the Entire Document View or the Standard View, but the Items Online View offers a more concise list of only those items in the collection description available for viewing online. Use this view to quickly access online images available in a collection.

Navigating the Collection Descriptions

In the Standard and Entire Document views, the left side navigation provides internal navigation within a collection description. It lists the major sections of the collection description and under the Contents List section provides links to the individual subgroups, series, and subseries. You can also search within the collection description, switch between the collection description views, and contact the holding repository for more information about the collection description or collection.


The Archives Online at Indiana University site uses the bookmarking and sharing tool from AddThis to allow you to bookmark, print, or email any page or collection description on the site as well as share your finds with others using social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, Digg and many others.

More Information

If you still have questions or are interested in finding out more information about a collection contained within this site, you can contact the holding repository using the contact information located on the left side navigation and Summary Information of any collection description. You can also contact the Indiana University Digital Library Program at

Accessibility Help