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Archives & Special Collections

This is the home page for Archives & Special Collections, Dean B. Ellis Library, 7th Floor, Arkansas State University

What is a Finding Aid?

The Society of American Archivists defines a finding aid as, “a description that typically consists of contextual and structural information about an archival resource.” Finding aids generally do not contain scans or photographs of items in an archival collection. Instead, it is a document which guides researchers through the contents and context of a collection. Finding aids include information on the record creator, conditions governing access and use, and the archival materials themselves. They also give researchers a sense on the content of the collection and how the collection is arranged. A “container inventory” details what is inside the box, and occasionally, what is inside folders within a box.

Finding Aids allow researchers to “see” a collection before they physically engage with it. Similar to browsing a library shelf, finding aids give researchers a sense of “browsing” archival collections. It gives researchers a better sense where records they may want to see are located. Finding aids also benefit the material themselves. The material has a better chance of only being handled when need be. Minimal handling allows for the long-term preservation of materials, ensuring future generations have a chance to access them.

Using Our Collections

If you are interested in accessing one of our collections, please contact us at to let us know what items you wish to view and schedule an appointment to use our reading room. We also ask that you complete a Researcher Registration form prior to your appointment. Allow for a minimum of 24 hours to retrieve items.

Due to the condition and nature of some of our materials, their use and access may be restricted. Please review our Guidelines and Procedures before your visit. All unprocessed collections are not available to researchers.

ArchivesSpace is currently unavailable and will be made available as soon as possible. Please use the links below to access a pdf version of our finding aids. If you have any questions about our archival collections, please contact Archives & Special Collections at Thank you and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Finding Aids are organized alphabetically by surname and organization.









Commercial Use of Archives & Special Collections Materials

Archives & Special Collections needs a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks to work through licensing any Archives & Special Collections media and material for commercial use.

7th floor - Non-Circulating Materials

Archives & Special Collections materials are non-circulating. They are for use only in the Eugene W. Smtih Reading Room on the 7th floor. This helps to preserve and protect our unique items. Please contact for an appointment and let us know what material(s) you would like to see.