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Research Services: Navigating the Archives Catalog

Archives Catalog

What is the Archives Catalog?

The McDaniel College Archives Catalog, hosted by ArchivesSpace, is an online display of descriptive information about the archival collections owned by the College. Like a library's online catalog of books, it is a finding tool that can help researchers locate archival materials of interest to them before visiting the Archives in-person. In most cases, the catalog does not provide immediate access to those materials. 

Using the Archives Catalog, you can:

  • Search and browse for information about archival collections
  • Access some digitized materials 

Access the Archives Catalog

What is a Collection Record?

A collection record is the descriptive entry for an archival collection. Collections are groups of related materials usually from the same creator. 

What Information Can You Find in a Record?

The type of information in each record varies from collection to collection. In general, you can find:

  • Formats of materials in a collection (i.e. paper documents, photographs, artifacts, etc.)
  • Dates related to a collection's creation
  • Important subjects, people, families, or corporations addressed in the collection
  • Information about the ownership history of a collection


To search the Archives Catalog, enter the topic you want to explore in the search box on the catalog's home page. To start a new search, click the magnifying glass in the top bar. 

Refine Results: Tips & Tricks

You can limit your results by: 

  • Adding a date range in the years field
  • Adding more topics to the search by clicking the "+" icon
    • Specify AND, OR, NOT to add or eliminate a term from your search
  • Setting the field search to "Keyword" to search more parts of a catalog record 
  • Searching for specific phrases by placing it in double quotes, (i.e., "Declaration of Independence") 
  • Search results do not include synonyms or alternative spellings. Use Subject and Name records to find the appropriate term when necessary.
  • Looking for digital copies of records by selecting "Limit to digital materials" in the "Search all record types" field


Not sure what you want to look for? Browsing provides a list of all available records for individual review. Different ways of browsing are listed in the top bar on the homepage. In the Archives Catalog, you can browse through collections, digital materials, subjects, or names. 


Subject browsing can identify collections that have substantial information about a particular topic. It also allows researchers to find collections about the same topic, but which may refer to it in different ways (i.e. The Revolutionary War vs. the American Revolution). Where possible, subject forms follow Library of Congress standards.


Browsing by names can help you identify people, families, and organizations referenced in archival collections. College departments and offices fall under this field. 

College Name Change

Name and subject tags related to the College use both McDaniel College and Western Maryland College as a heading, depending on when the collection was created. Prior to 2002, Western Maryland College is used as the primary tag. Post-2002 tags use McDaniel College. Collections that span the name change will include both headings.  

Collection Records

A collection record provides descriptive information about the contents of the collection and its ownership history. 

At the top-level, the main components of a record are:

  • Collection Overview: Provides a synopsis of the collection and its contents
  • Collection Organization: Highlights individual parts that make up a collection

Navigating a Collection Record 

You can explore a collection in several ways: 

  • Searching Collection Records: Enter a topic you want to explore in the search bar. Set date ranges to further limit results. 
  • Collection Organization: Browse through different levels of the collection's organization (series, boxes, files, and items) to get additional information about the different materials in the collection. Because collections vary in their size and arrangement needs, not all collection records will have this component. 

Parts of a Collection Record

Key Information
  • Collection Title: Name of the collection. This is usually tied to the creator of the records.
  • Collection Identifier: A unique code of letters and numbers assigned to a collection. The first part of the code (RG, MG, SpC) reflects the classification the collection falls under (RG-College Records, MS-Manuscript Collections, SpC-Special Collections). It is not necessary to know the collection identifier but it helps when requesting materials from the archives.
Collection Overview
  • Scope & Contents: A written overview of the collection, including what types of information can be found in it, and what forms the materials may take. The scope and contents note will also include information about how a collection is organized and include references to other collections with similar information. 
  • Dates: Dates reflect when the materials in the collection were created.
  • Conditions Governing Use: Includes information about any restrictions on use of collection.
  • Extent: Quantifies how much material is in a collection. 

Additional Description
  • Subjects: Most common topics found in the collection.
  • Record Groups: Most important in College records. A Record Group provides additional information about the context of a collection's creation in regards to other records. 
  • Related Names: People, families, and organizations found in the collection. 
  • Finding Aid & Administrative Information: Provides information about when the catalog record was created and updated. 
  • Biographical/Historical: Provides context on the collection's creator. In the case of individuals or families, this will usually be a brief biographical note. In the case of departments or offices, the note will describe the organization's history. 
  • Conditions Governing Access: Includes information about any restrictions on access to materials in a collection.

Digital Objects

Digital object records describe the electronic records in a collection. They contain much of the same information as collection records, including description, subject and name tags, and dates. When available, digital object records will include a link to view a record online. 

The College Archives' most popular digital collections (yearbooks, student newspapers, alumni news magazines) can also be viewed online on the Digital Collections page on the website.