Finding Aids

What is a Finding Aid?

A finding aid is a guide to a particular archival collection. Archivists prepare these guides to help researchers determine the usefulness of the contents of a collection of records, personal papers, or manuscripts. Depending on the size of the collection, a finding aid may be just a brief summary, or it may be a detailed description and inventory. In general, the Roosevelt Library's finding aids describe the collections down to the box and folder level.

Using the Finding Aids

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The 17,000,000 pages of documents in the Roosevelt Library can be found within concise groups, or collections (FDR's Papers as President, The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, the Sumner Welles Papers, etc.). 

The Library houses approximately 400 collections of papers from individuals and organizations associated with the Roosevelts. Each collection is described by a finding aid. Finding aids may be Keyword Searched

List of Archival Collections

The smaller collections usually have one-page descriptions that provide basic information about each collection, including information on the collecting individual (or organization), a brief description of the papers, any restrictions on access, and information on copyright.

Most of the larger collections have more detailed finding aids. The most common is the shelf list, which indicates by folder or box the contents of the collections. For some collections, or substantial portions of them, there are card indexes for individual documents. Those indexes are available in our research room.

After searching the finding aids, explore the FDR Library's digitized historical materials at Search Our Collections. If you have a research question or need more information about our collections, please explore the tools available at More Online Resources or send an inquiry to the staff by email (see Contact the Archives).