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ENSH- Authors' Archives

Find authors' archives in repositories around the world.

Search tools for Archival holdings

There exist a variety of union lists and shared catalogue for archival and manuscript (AM) material in the world.  There is some overlap in coverage and holdings, but to find everything, one must search each of these.   Some deal with specific jurisdictions (indicated by the flags on each item), and some deal with wider geographic areas.

It can sometimes be difficult to identify an author's "main" collection - there may be manuscripts and other material in more than one archive, and that author may be represented in a vareity of other collections or archives (their correspondence, for example, with other authors, may be in that other author's collection). 

Most of these tools use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCCH), which is what academic library book catalogues use to describe their holdings, but there are also a variety of archival description standards that are in use across the English speaking world:

Maintained by the International Council of Archives

  • General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD)
  • International Standard Archival Authority Records (Corporate bodies, persons, and families) (ISAAR-CPF)
  • International Standard for Describing Institutions with Archival Holdings (ISDIAH)
  • International Standard for Describing Functions (ISDF)

Maintained by Archive Canada

  • Rules for Archival Description (RAD)

Being familiar with these descriptive standards can help you find entry points to the collections you're seeking - what fields to search against, how to search them effectively, how to craft keywords, etc. 

For best results, search on many synonyms and name variants (natural and inverted, "Cormac McCarthy" and "McCarthy, Cormac")


Use Biography Sources

Some biography sources will point you to an author's archival and manuscript collections: 

Finding hard to find collections

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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.