Using Archival Collections
Austin Seminary students relax in the Currie Dorm Lounge, 1956. From the Austin Seminary Archives.
What are finding aids?
Archival collections are usually accessed through finding aids. A finding aid provides a summary of the collection, a brief biography of the creator, and an inventory of the materials in the collection and their dates. In general, material is inventoried at the folder level, and not at the item level. Researchers use the finding aid to narrow down their search and locate folders that may be of interest.
The description of the collection is generally broken up into "series," or groupings of like items. The finding aid will usually be organized in an outline format below each series grouping.
The Austin Seminary Archives include correspondence, photographs, diaries, printed material, audio and video material, and other documentation of Austin Seminary and the Presbyterian church in the Southwest.
The Archives has many collections, only some of which have completed inventories available online. If you have any questions about using the archives in person, or if you would like to ask a reference question via email, please contact the archivist.
View the Austin Seminary Archives online finding aids
View selected digitized materials from the Austin Seminary Archives
View open material in the Austin Seminary web archives
Many researchers are interested in researching the history of their congregation. We have created an index of congregational materials throughout our collections, arranged by state, city, and church. You can view the index here. Inventories for collections referenced in the index are available on our collections page.
Due to limitations of space, in-person access to all archival materials is by appointment only.
Archival materials do not circulate and must be viewed on-site.
Most material that is open for research can be photocopied or scanned for personal use unless the material is too fragile or photocopies are restricted by the donor. All photocopying will be performed by archives staff.
The Archives reserves the right to limit use of any material in a fragile physical condition. Researchers may be required to use a facsimile to protect the original from wear.
In all collections, records containing employee records, student grade information and/or social security numbers are restricted for a period of 80 years from the date of creation or until the individual is deceased.
Note that parts of some collections may be restricted for a period of time as part of our agreement with the donor. In addition, many Austin Seminary administrative records and Congregational records have certain access restrictions. Please contact the archivist with any questions about the availability of a collection.
The Austin Seminary Archives collects and preserves select websites relating to our students, faculty, and staff. For more information, see our web archiving policy (PDF).
Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research by Laura Schmidt (Society of American Archivists)
Using Archives: A Guide for the Inexperienced (Archives Hub)
Using Archives: A Practical Guide for Researchers (Library and Archives Canada)