Finding aids are inventories that describe collection contents in greater detail. This page breaks down the essential parts of a finding aid. This will help you interpret the information presented in a finding aid. The sections of a finding aid explained here are broken down into six parts: Collection Overview; Biographical / Historical Note; Scope and Content Notes; Subject Terms; Citation; and Collection Inventory.
The National Archives defines the biographical note as "explanations or significant information relevant to the understanding of a person's life or activities." The purpose of a biographical note is to provide context regarding the individual(s) related to the collection, and to distinguish among people with a similar or same name.
The Scope and Content note provides an overview (or scope) of the contents of the collection.
Most archival institutions will utilize Library of Congress Subject Headings when "tagging" their collections. This helps to curate search results to include collections related to the term being searched.