Archives Service > Descriptive List: how to use

How to search a Descriptive List

Descriptive List is a fundamental finding aid for an archival collection. It should contain information which details the provenance of a collection and its system of arrangement. The list facilitates researchers in locating documents of specific interest to their research topic. It also assists researchers in assessing the collection as a primary source and judge the evidential value of the archives.

The online pdf copy of a Descriptive List is keyword searchable. To bring up a Find box onscreen, click Ctrl+F, then enter a keyword – e.g. a person’s surname/a place name. Please be aware that spellings of names and places change over centuries so you may have to conduct multiple searches. Contained within the list will be a brief description of each item in a collection which will include details such as the date and size of the item. Each entry will have a call number. When you wish to look at a particular item please provide the archivist with the relevant call number.

Below is a typical example of a list entry IE BL/EP/R (Ryan of Inch Collection)

20.                 1692  
See Also

Probate with copy of the will of Daniel Ryan, Inchiofogarty. Appoints as executors his wife Frances (née Ragget) and his son John. Other children named are Nicholas, Andrew, Patrick, Joseph and Frances. The will is dated 2 April 1692.                                    2 skins

In this case the call number is IE BL/EP/R/20, the date of the item is 1692, and it comprises of two skins (parchment sheets). With an entry See Also /8, information relating to this item can also be found in item BL/EP/R/8.

Hard copy Descriptive Lists for archival collections within the Boole Library are available for consultation during Library opening hours from the Special Collections desk in Q-1. Descriptive Lists may not be borrowed from the Library. Detailed information relating to the collection will be contained in the Introduction of the hardcopy list.


Last updated: 19 August 2014