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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

Special Collections and University Archives uses an online system to provide access to our archival collections.  Below is more information about searching for finding aids, including a video tutorial.


This is the basic search, which is the first page you see after entering the system. From here, users can search, browse the collections by clicking on one of the letters, or use 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. Not included in this screenshot, but later on in the results, individual folders from various collections make the list since they have the keywords in their folder titles. Users can also see the top subject terms on the left side of the results.

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 directly 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.

Using SKCA tutorial


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. Click on the plus signs to expand the list.

If you want to view the finding aid as one page, click on "Printable finding aid" which will be on the right side, underneath the collection title. If this link is not there, please let us know.

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.**