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Searching the Archives at FSU

A guide to using ArchivesSpace, FSU's finding aid database.


ArchivesSpace's navigation bar is on the top of each page and allows users to browse the database by Repository, Collection, Accession, Subject, Name, or Classification. Users can also navigate back to the home page by clicking the "Home" button on the navigation bar. 

  • Repositories - Browse records created by specific repository.
  • Collections - Browse alphabetical list of collections in ArchivesSpace.
  • Accessions - Browse alphabetical list of accessions in ArchivesSpace.
  • Subjects - Browse alphabetical list of subjects listed in collections and accessions.
  • Names - Browse alphabetical list of names and organizations listed in collections and accessions.
  • Classifications - Browse ArchivesSpace based on curatorial areas and collection highlights.
  • Magnifying glass - Search the archives.

Identifying the Repository

The records described in ArchivesSpace are housed in five different repositories. Users can identify which repository a collection is located in either on the search results page or the collection's finding aid.

How to identify the repository on the search results page:

How to identify the repository on the collection's finding aid:

Reading a Collection Record

Once a search has been completed and a relevant collection has been identified, the finding aid will provide further information about the collection. The collection overview provides a description of the collection contents, dates for items within the collection, and biographical or historical information about people or events the collection relates to. This page also allows users to search within a single collection as well as generate a citation for the collection.

Annotated screenshot of a digital finding aid in ArchivesSpace.

Items within large collections are typically organized into a series that groups relevant files or items together. 

Annotated screenshot of a file level finding aid in ArchivesSpace.

Glossary of Terms

Accession: the materials physically and officially transferred to a repository as a unit at a single time. Accessions may be unprocessed, and portions of an accession may not be immediately available for research. If you would like access to an accession, we recommend you contact the repository. A list of FSU repositories with contact information can be found in the section Requesting Access to Materials in ArchivesSpace.

Collection: a set of archival or manuscript materials that were aggregated in some way. A collection can represent a grouping of materials assembled by a person, organization, or repository from a variety of sources. A collection can also be composed of materials that are topically or temporally-related, or they may share no relation other than the individual or organization that gathered them together.

Collection Number: a unique number given to a collection for identification purposes. 

File: related documents that are kept together in a folder. 

Finding Aid: a resource that places archival materials in context by consolidating information about the collection. Examples of information typically found in a finding aid include: important dates; how the collection was acquired and processed; where the collection came from; a biographical note about the individual or organization relevant to the collection; the scope of the collection; subject headings related to the information topics within the collection; and an inventory of the materials within the collection, organized by boxes or folders. The finding aid can also give information about where the items in the collection are physically located. 

Item: a thing that is complete in itself. 

Repository: the place where collections are stored and cared for. A collection's repository refers to the physical location where the collection is housed. A list of FSU repositories with contact information can be found in the section Requesting Access to Materials in ArchivesSpace.

Series: a group of similar records that are related in some way. Often they are grouped together as the result of being created, received, or used in the same activity.

Source: SAA Dictionary of Archives Terminology

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