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How to search Special Collections and University Archives finding aids

Welcome! This guide provides information about searching our finding aids.

How to search our holdings

UIC's Special Collections and University Archives has a new system for our users to search for archival collections and view finding aids. Additionally, users can now search the University Archives and our manuscript collections in one database. Below is more information about searching for finding aids, including video tutorials.


This is the basic search, which is the first page you see after entering the system. From here, users can browse the collections in a few ways: by clicking on one of the letters, or by using one of the searches on the left side of the screen.

Users can also just search directly by typing the title of the collection or a keyword into the search box. Searching by collection code won't work. For example, these are the results of a "Hull House" search:

The results are ranked based on how many times the search keywords appear in the records, taking into account the collection records, but also the series and folder records. The first 3 results are our main Hull-House collections. You can see after those 3 listed, there are 2 other collections, and #6 on the list is the Hull-House Oral History Collection. Not included in this screenshot, but later on that list, individual folders from various collections make the list since they have the keywords in their records. Users can also see the top subject terms on the left side of the results.

Reports are only temporary and cannot be saved in the browser. However, they can be downloaded and printed. Please do not email Special Collections PDFs- please just copy and paste the first 10 boxes you want to see first at your visit into a LibAnswers ticket.

In the Search Results, users have a few options.

  • Selecting "See more about Collection" shows the user all of the administrative material: scope and contents, abstract, subject/name headings, etc. From here the user can still view the finding aid or the hierarchy.
  • Selecting "Display finding aid" brings you to the collection's finding aid, which combines the administrative material with the container list (viewable on the left side of the screen)
  • Selecting "Show hierarchy" shows only the container list in a new window, divided into its series.

Users can choose "Display Finding Aid" either from the "Search Results" or from the "See More about Collection." This will bring you to the finding aid with the administrative material plus the inventory.

Why can't I see the whole finding aid at once?

All of the descriptive information about the collections are still at the top. Inventory lists are now held in dropdown menus to the left of the screen.


Search Example Video: Hull House

Coming soon!


The new interface has a few ways to search or browse the collections. These facets are located in the upper left of the browser window. These links cannot be opened in separate browser tabs.

Topics - These are links to our collection strengths. Interested in design history, social settlements, or politics? This section will take you to lists of our collections in these areas and more.

Newly Processed Collections - Collections we've just finished processing.

Browse Subjects - This will bring users to a list of subject headings. Click the box to select multiple headings, or click on the subject to see which collections it's used in.

Browse Creators - Similar to the subject browse search. Click the box to select multiple headings, or click on the name to see which collections it's used in.

The last item on this list, Ask A Librarian, will link you to our hours & contact information, including our email address. During your searching and browsing, we're available to help.

How to read a finding aid

The main difference between our old and new systems is that there's now navigation on the left side of the finding aid pages, which needs to be expanded or selected to see the materials sorted within that series or subseries. The plus signs in the navigation indicate there are materials sorted underneath.

If you're looking for more information on how to read and use a finding aid generally, please see our help article Use an archival finding aid.

How do I request material?

You may call us (312-996-2742 for Daley; 312-996-8977 for LHS), email, or send the request to us through our widget.

** Please do not email us your pdf reports.**