Washington University Libraries’ Julian Edison Department of Special Collections invites researchers to explore our extensive collections, including the Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, Film and Media Archive, Local History, Manuscripts, Rare Books, and University Archives.
Special Collections aims to collect, preserve, promote, and make accessible rare, archival, and primary source materials that enrich teaching, learning, and research for the Washington University community and beyond. Researchers can search the manuscript and archival collections with ArchivesSpace.
ArchivesSpace is a web application designed to help our users search for and access items in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections. Our librarians and archivists produce finding aids that describe the items in our collections so you will have plenty of information about our collections' materials to help you search for what you need.
ArchivesSpace is an open-source information management application for archival and manuscript materials. Researchers can access ArchivesSpace to browse and search a repository’s collections and view finding aids for processed collections. Researchers can access ArchivesSpace to browse and search a repository’s collections, view finding aids for processed collections, and request materials.
From the Washington University Libraries home page click on the down arrow to the left of the search bar:
Then click on the “ArchivesSpace” link:
In the search bar, type in your search term and ENTER on your keyboard (or click on the magnifying glass icon to the right.)
Results will be displayed in a new tab in ArchivesSpace.
You can also go directly to ArchivesSpace via this link: https://aspace.wustl.edu/ :
From the main ArchivesSpace (https://aspace.wustl.edu/) landing page you may do a keyword search related to your research topic. There are a lot of options for searching including limiting the term by record type, fields within in ArchivesSpace, and date.
In the example below, the keyword is the author “May Swenson,” in “Collections” where she is a “Creator” of the material within a date range.
You will see a results page appear that looks similar to the following. Click on the link for “May Swenson Papers”:
The May Swenson Papers record will appear:
ArchivesSpace gives you the option to add another keyword to further focus your search.
Do a search similar to the previous search example:
(1) Type a search term
(2) Click on the down arrow and choose Limit to Collections
(3) Click on the down arrow and choose “Creator”(4) Click on SEARCH:
From your results, you can continue to focus your search by clicking on “Refine Search” and adding another search term:
Click on the “+” :
Another line will pop up, allowing you to add additional search criteria:
Alternatively, you can do a keyword search from the main page and focus your search using additional filters that will appear on the right-hand side of the screen. Using the keyword, “May Swenson” will bring up a large number of records.
In the following example, you can further limit your search by selecting authority fields or categories that are linked in the additional filters. For example, clicking on the linked name, “Swenson, May” will take you to records where May Swenson is a creator of the manuscript material.
You can further refine these results by using the additional filters at the left of the screen. You can search within these results and limit the results to a specific area of Special Collections (e.g., Manuscripts, etc.); by subject terms (i.e, terms that describes what the collection is about); or by specific names of persons and organizations associated with the collection.
From the main ArchivesSpace landing page you can browse the collections in Special Collections in five different ways: by Collections, Collection Areas, Subjects, Creators, and Digital Materials. You can also return to the home screen, which includes the search interface, at any time by clicking on HOME:
The COLLECTIONS link will display a list of all the collections in Special Collections. You can browse the alphabetical list or refine your search via the “ADDITIONAL FILTERS” links on the left by COLLECTING AREA, SUBJECT, OR NAME. You can also do a keyword search within these results and limit by date to further focus your search:
The COLLECTING AREAS link will display a list of Special Collections’ collecting areas: The D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, the Film & Media Archive, Local History, Manuscripts, Rare Books, University Archives, and WU Distributed Libraries:
The SUBJECTS link will display a list of subject headings for collections in the repository. You can browse the list or refine your search by adding a keyword search within these results. You can also sort the results alphabetically by title.
The CREATORS link will display a list of authority records of people or organizations who created material in the Special Collections. You can browse the alphabetical list or refine your search via the “Additional Filters” links on the left by TYPE or COLLECTING AREA. You can also do a keyword search within these results and limit by date to continue to focus your search:
Digital thumbnails are available for a select number of collections:
ArchivesSpace allows researchers to view finding aids for processed collections. A finding aid is a document containing detailed, indexed information about a collection that allows researchers to location specific information or records within a collection.
In our finding aids, researchers will be able to read a description of the collection (Scope and Contents), the extent and date range for the collection, historical or biographical information about the creator of the collection, and other information about the conditions governing access and use of the collections, including any restrictions on the collection in addition to other administrative data.
To find out more about a specific collection, click on the title to open up the finding aid.
In this example, under the COLLECTIONS tab, click in the SEARCH WITHIN RESULTS field, and type “Walt Reed” then click on the SEARCH button:
Click on the record “Walt Reed Illustration Archives”:
The following page appears. Click on SERIES 6: Tear Sheets:
Click on SERIES 6, SUB-SERIES 1:
The following page appears. Click on EXPAND ALL:
or any of the sub-links on this page you will find the following info:
Click on the WALT REED ILLUSTRATION ARCHIVE TEAR SHEETS link under DIGITAL MATERIAL:
The following page will appear.
On the right hand side of the screen, you will see the Collection Organization with an expandable listing for each archival series. You can browse the collection by opening up the listings by clicking on the arrows, or you can search within the collection by keyword using the search box
As you open up each series, there may be subseries, as is the case for Series 6 Tear Sheets:
Researchers can view what is in each series, subseries, box, and folder. You will also find important information about how a collection has been arranged. This information can be seen in the Collection Organization section, and also in a breadcrumb menu at the top of the page.
At the folder or item level, there will be detailed information about the material, including Scope and Contents (how many items are in this folder), Dates (dates of the items), Physical Storage Information (folder information), and Collecting Area Details (Collecting Area, link to the Special Collections website, and contact info for that collection). To view more information, you can click on the link in that section to view more detail.
Note: Each finding aid has its own level of detail and organization, but at the item or box level there will a note about Physical Storage Information and a Request button that researcher can use to request to view the material:
You can use the Request button at the collection level, series, or folder level pages in ArchivesSpace by clicking the Request button at the top right corner of the About and Browse pages. You will then be prompted to enter your name, email address, and a note to the staff. It is extremely helpful if in the note you provide precisely what collection and portion(s) of the collection you are interested in accessing (e.g., collection title and series or box numbers).