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Finding Aids

Finding aids are descriptive inventories, indexes, or guides that repositories create to describe and provide access to the contents of archival records and manuscript collections. Finding aids provide information about records, the context of their creation, archival actions such as acquisition and processing, and often a detailed contents list.

Most of the Archives Department’s collections are described in online finding aids, which are included in Archival Resources in Wisconsin, a database of finding aids of collections held in nineteen repositories statewide. (The remaining percentage of our holdings are “small collections” consisting of a single item or folder. These are usually described in catalog records.) Guidance for conducting searches in Archival Resources in Wisconsin follows:


Conduct “basic” or “advanced” (Boolean) keyword searches, limiting your search to specific parts of a finding aid and/or a specific repository. To limit your search to UWM finding aids, select “UW-Milwaukee Libraries / Milwaukee Area Research Ctr.” on the drop-down menu of repositories.


Browse finding aids alphabetically by name of the creator or title of the collection. It is not possible to limit browsing to the holdings of a specific repository.


Read the Help pages for information about conducting a search, interpreting search results, and saving selected items in your “book bag” for downloading as text files or e-mailing.