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Guide to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

A guide to SCARC services; for additional information, please see our website

Types of Materials

The unique collections in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center can be used to support research in a wide range of topics. These collections include almost every possible format, including:

In fact, you may find a variety of formats relevant to your research within a single collection! You can learn about a collection and its contents by examining its collection guide. You can learn how to read a collection guide by watching the video below.

Collection guides reside on the Special Collections and Archives Research Center's website, and you can use the box in the upper right corner of our website to run keyword searches across all 1,400+ collections in our holdings!

One thing to note about our website, and collection guides: while collection guides can be accessed online from our website, most of our collections exist only in analog form. If any part of a collection has been digitized, it will be noted at the top of the collection's online guide.

You can also find our materials in 1Search (the Valley Library online catalog), Oregon Digital (the site where we host archival materials we digitize from our collections), and ScholarsArchive@OSU. Check out the tutorials below for tips on searching with these tools.

Find SCARC Materials in Collection Guides

Video Transcript

There are two ways to find relevant materials in SCARC's Collection Guides. Under Collections on the left side of the screen, you can browse a list of collections alphabetically by title, collections by type, such as maps, photographs, or oral histories, a full list of all subject headings used in our collection guides, and alphabetically by creator. Or, on the right side of the screen, use the search box to enter your terms. Put quotes around the terms to search as a phrase, or leave off for a broader search. 

Results will come in up to four categories. Collections will show collection guides which have all search terms or phrases in them. These are divided by type of collection, which can include Film and Video, Maps, Manuscripts and Personal Papers, Oral Histories, Photographs, Publications, or university Record Groups. Click on the collection title to see the terms within the collection guide; or, click on the box list to be taken to the search hit directly in the container list. When you find material in the container list you would like to consult, note the box, folder, and/or item numbers of the relevant material; these will be necessary to request and retrieve the boxes for you in SCARC.

The results under PDF Container List show collections which have not been fully processed, and which may only have preliminary box lists in PDF form. Click on the title to go to the PDF; use a Control-F search to find your term in the document. You can see the preliminary collection guide by clicking on Learn More.

Finally, People, Places, and Topics will show you subject headings that may be relevant to your search, and Creators will show you any collection creators associated with your search terms.

How to Use a Collection Guide

A collection guide, also known as a finding aid, is a descriptive tool that helps you navigate an archival collection. The collection guide consolidates information about the collection, and frequently lists the contents of the collection as well. Let's take a look at this collection guide in more detail. 

At the beginning of the guide just after the title, you'll see two sets of dates. The dates in the title show the date of the very earliest item in the collection and the latest item in the collection. The predominant dates section tells you what date span is covered by the majority of the materials in the collection. These can be important when you are looking for material within a certain span, and can help you decide if a collection is relevant to your research. 

The Abstract gives a general overview of the contents and focus of the collection, as well as a brief note about the creator, whether that is an individual or organization. 

Under Creators, you can see a linked list of all creators associated with the collection. 

The ID is akin to the collection's call number.  Under Extent, you will see how large the collection is. SCARC measures in cubic feet; other institutions may measure in linear feet. This number can give you an idea of how much time it will take to consult the full collection - larger collections will take more time to consult thoroughly. You can get more details about the extent of the collection under "More Extent Information."

The Scope and Content note summarizes general information about the contents of the collection. This note can include the specific types and formats of materials in the collection, as well as the most significant topics, people, or events covered by the collection materials. It can also describe the functions and activities that produced the records, or particular items or series of note.

The Biographical or Historical Note places the materials in context by describing basic information about the collection's creator or compiler. This information can include significant dates or eras, notable events, or name changes over time.

Under the Statement on Access, you can see any restrictions to access. Arrangement will give you an idea of how the collection is broadly arranged. You'll also find a Preferred Citation, and other notes on access, acquisition, and languages.

Going back up to the top and clicking on People, Places, and Topics, shows linked subject headings that have been assigned to this collection. Clicking on these will take you to a list of other collections that also have these subject headings. 

The section on Related Materials will direct you to similar collections that may have other materials of interest on the main topics of this collection.

The Container List describes the materials in the collection, usually at the folder level. Please note that the container list describes the physical materials in the collection at the aggregate level; it is not a list of what has been digitized from the collection. If portions of a collection have been digitized, those links will appear in the series note, or be directly linked from the container list. If those links are not present, the collection is in analog format only.

A folder title is usually a general description of the materials in the folder. A folder can have multiple documents within it, as well as different document types. It is important to read these critically, and broadly, with your topic in mind to identify relevant material. For example, if you were researching the history of testing accommodations for students with learning disabilities, you might find relevant material in both Series 2: Policies, Memoranda and Guidelines, and in Series 3, Academic Accomodations, Testing. Note the box, folder or item numbers for materials that you would like to consult; these will be needed to retrieve this material for you in SCARC.

Sometimes, you will see a PDF container list, rather than a linked container list. This means the collection has not yet been fully processed by our archivists; however, it is usually still open for research. These collections may be described with less detail, but the PDF container list is there to help you begin to identify relevant materials for your research. As with linked container lists, note any box, folder, or item numbers for materials you would like to consult; these will be needed to retrieve the materials for you in SCARC.


Video Transcript

To find published materials in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, click on Advanced Search from the main catalog page. Enter your keyword in the search box. Here you can use wildcards and truncation rules, such as an asterisk to find word variants. This search will find the terms agriculture, agricultural, agriculturalist, and other variations of the word. Then limit the scope of your search to Special Collections and Archives. You can also narrow your search by different material types, such as journal, by languages, or by date range. To limit to a set of years, enter the first and the last year.

Your search results can be refined in a number of ways. To browse results in the chronological order of the date span, choose date-oldest. You can also refine by resource type, topic, or creator. Come back to this corner to remove filters. 

Your results can be seen in this panel, 10 to a page. Click on Load more results to see the next page. From this quick view of the record, you can get a link back to it, email it, or pin it to your favorites lists. You can also export the record, get the citation in a variety of formats, or print the record. Click on the title to look at the full record. All of your export and request functions are here at the top. Scroll down to find bibliographic details. Use the subject headings to branch out from your search; clicking on these will take you to new results without any former filters applied.

Click here to go back to your results.