A finding aid is a tool that historians use to find primary sources for their research. It’s usually a part of a library’s or archive’s website, and describes the contents that make up a manuscript collection. It tells researchers the number of boxes and/or folders in a collection, along with the topics covered. Sometimes collections can be very big and the finding aids complex. Finding aids are also generally hidden within a library’s larger website, so you must know the name of the collection or the special place to click to find the aid. The National History Day (NHD) in WI Friendly Finding Aid uses the same organization as a formal finding aid, but has a friendlier format. First, each collection featured has been reviewed with you in mind. For example, sometimes only part of the collection will be covered, or big collections with long finding aids might be summarized with topics of interest highlighted. Also, unexpected and fabulous topics found during the review process are featured so you can get to them quickly. Finally, the NHD Aid is right here, not buried in some other site. Now how friendly is that!
Goals for the NHD Friendly Finding Aid: The first step to any research is simply knowing what’s available and where. That is the first goal of this site. There are many other goals as well. For example, the NHD Friendly Finding Aid can help broaden your topic selection and improve the quality of your work. Engaging with primary documents makes historical research come alive, and there are great sources available right near you. Wisconsin’s NHD Western Region has great libraries and archives with impressive collections just waiting for you to use. One visit to the archives can raise what you do from simply good to amazing, so let’s get going!
The National History Day Friendly Finding Aid is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, finding, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. Additional funding from: The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, College of Liberal Studies and History Department.