What is a finding aid?A finding aid is a descriptive guide for an archival collection. Typically, it includes information about the origin, history, content, date, and format of the records, as well as the physical and intellectual arrangement imposed upon them by the archivist. Finding aids at the Philadelphia Museum of Art typically include most or all of the following sections:
Collection SummaryContains brief summary information about the collection, specifically its title, date, creator(s), extent, and three-character code used by the archivist to quickly identify it. In addition, this section includes an abstract of the collection and its creator(s).
Information for ResearchersProvides information for researchers about how the collection should be cited, and whether there are any access or use restrictions beyond the typical ones associated with archival collections. In addition, this section contains information about related and separated archival material at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and elsewhere that might also be of interest to researchers.
Administrative InformationContains information primarily useful for the archivist. Listed here is information about who processed the collection, how it was acquired, and whether or not additional material has been added to it.
Historical NoteEstablishes a context for understanding the records by relating them to their author/creator. For individuals, this section contains a biographical sketch detailing the life and activities of the person or persons who generated the papers. Emphasis is typically given to accomplishments, events, and experiences reflected in the material. For a corporate body, this section contains an administrative history focusing on the structure, function, and purpose of the organization.
Scope and Content NoteProvides a narrative description of the material in the collection, detailing its format, content, and use. Typically, the note includes information on the specific types and forms of material; the most significant topics, events, persons, and places represented by the collection; and, when appropriate, information about the functions or activities resulting in the creation of the records.
Arrangement NoteDescribes how the collection is organized, typically within a series. When appropriate, information about why that arrangement was selected is included.
Series Description OutlineProvides progressively more detailed information about discrete sections of the collection. For series with subordinate series (subseries and sub-subseries), a scope and content note describing the collective content of those subordinate units is included. For series without subordinate series, a scope and content note describing the material within that section only is included, as well as a folder-level inventory of the files within that unit. The inventory includes information about a folder’s author/creator, subject, format, and date. Please note that the Philadelphia Museum of Art lists folders in intellectual, rather than physical, order. This means that box and folder numbers may not be consecutive, but instead may jump between boxes, reflecting the fact that unusual and oversize format material is stored separate from the main collection.
This section may also include see and see-also references. A see reference is placed within the folder inventory at a place where the researcher may think certain information should be located, but is not. The reference redirects the research to the correct place to look for the pertinent information. Many see references direct a researcher from the name of a corporation an individual is associated with to the name of the individual, or vice versa. A see-also reference may occur at the series or folder level, and provides a mechanism for linking related material. If there are several related folders with the same title and within the same series that might be of interest, a link is provided to the first folder only.