Discover Finding Aids – Part Two

As we discussed in our first article “Discover Finding Aids”, finding aids are tools that provide information about the archival documents held in a fonds or a collection. One of the most common types of finding aid is the content list. It typically provides general file-level reference information. In Archives Search, a content-list finding aid for a fonds or a collection can appear in a number of ways:

  1. It can be attached to the fonds-level description as a portable document format (.pdf file). This is generally true for collections or materials acquired from private individuals (usually identified by collection codes beginning with “MSS”) as in the example below:
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the word “Finding aid.” The right column displays the result with a link to a pdf finding aid.

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  1. It may also be accessed by clicking on the hyperlinked number found beside the “consists of” text. This is generally true for collections of materials acquired from government departments (usually identified by collection codes beginning with “RG”).
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the words “Series consists of.” The right column displays the words “7893 lower level description(s).”

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  1. Sometimes the content list is only identified by a number in the text paragraph, which can be found beside the Finding aid field label in a fonds, collection, series or sub-series description.
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the words “Finding aid.” The right column displays a brief written description of the content list.

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Content lists simply identified by number generally exist in paper format only and must be consulted in person (or copies must be obtained). Numbers beginning with MSS (e.g., MSS0211) most often refer to content lists for collections or materials acquired from private individuals. Finding aids composed of numbers separated by a hyphen (e.g., 12-13) usually refer to content lists for collections of materials acquired from government departments.

This concludes “Discover Finding Aids – Part Two.” You can now read the Archives Search results to help you locate the finding aids.

 Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Discover Finding Aids – Part Two

  1. Pingback: New Finding Aids Online: Department of Militia and Defence (RG9) circa 1914–1919 « Library and Archives Canada Blog

  2. Pingback: New Finding Aid Online: Non-Permanent Active Militia | Library and Archives Canada Blog

  3. Pingback: Discover Finding Aids—Part Three: Searching within a Finding Aid | Library and Archives Canada Blog

  4. Pingback: Find colour photos of Canadian Second World War soldiers | Library and Archives Canada Blog

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