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UWM LibGuides Training Site

An internal resource page used for training and getting started with LibGuides at the UWM Libraries.

What Is a Finding Aid?

"Finding aids" are descriptive inventories, indexes, or guides that we write to describe the contents of our archival records and manuscript collections. Finding aids provide information about these primary source collections, including the context and creator, any archival actions such as acquisition and processing, and often a detailed contents list. Read a finding aid to 1) determine the relevance of a collection to your research; 2) understand the context of the material; and 3) identify specific parts of a collection you would like to use. (Note that the "contents list" section leads you to specific folders and or boxes.)

Most of the Archives Department's collections are described in online finding aids which are searchable in the state-wide database Archival Resources in Wisconsin ( Or, you can read finding aids when you visit the Archives.

Watch our video on searching in and understanding finding aids at What is a finding aid and how does it help me?