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Michigan State University

RCAH 291 Lisa Biggs Detroit '67: Special Collections and other resources at the library

What is an archival collection?

An archival collection is a set of papers generated by a person or organization over some period of time.

  • An individual's personal papers might include journals, photo albums, letters and postcards.
  • An individual's professional papers might include drafts of published writing; correspondence with colleagues, speeches given, awards received.
  • The papers of a non-profit organization might include past issues of its newsletter, fundraising letters, meeting summaries for the board of directors and annual reports.

An archival collection can range from a few folders of material to hundreds of boxes.

A finding aid is the document describing the contents of an archival collection -- usually not every document, but folder by folder.

Search Special Collections finding aids. This interface works best if you type AND between each keyword in your search.

How to request archival collections

Most of our archival collections are stored off-site. Allow three days for the material to be retrieved. We can keep the retrieved material in the Main Library as long as you need it, or until the end of the semester, whichever comes first.

1) Look at the finding aid to determine what boxes you need. 

2) Go to the library catalog search box on the Special Collections page.

3) Search for the collection title listed at the top of the finding aid.

4) Use the Request It! button to generate a request for the material. 

Finding documentaries

The ROVI Media Collection is our best source for video documentaries.

Go to the Advanced Search page for the library catalog.

Under Collection, limit your search to ROVI Media Collection.

Enter keywords, such as detroit and jewish.

Broadside Press

Special Collections has many items published by Dudley Randall's Broadside Press.

If you're interested in a specific author, be sure to search them by name too. Broadside Press did not publish every poem by every author they worked with.

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