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Browsing descriptive guides in the Texas Digital Archive (TDA)

Descriptive guides, also known as finding aids, are written by archivists to help researchers find the records they are looking for. Each descriptive guide provides information about the arrangement of, historical background of, and restrictions on the records. These sections may be a useful starting point for understanding the context of the records.

Before browsing a descriptive guide, it is helpful to know that these landing pages and guides are arranged like the hierarchical structure of a state agency. The organization of the records and series will reflect the organization of a state agency.

Click a collection icon on the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) home page to begin navigating to the descriptive guides (see Figure 1, below.)


Figure 1.

After clicking a collection icon, you will arrive at a landing page for that collection. See Figure 2 below for an example of a landing page.


Figure 2. Manuscripts collections landing page.

To view the descriptive guide for a collection, click on the image next to that collection. In Figure 2 above, clicking on the image of Richard Bachman will take you to the descriptive guide for the Richard Bachman collection.

Descriptive guides for state agencies will also sometimes include links to records for different divisions within that agency.

A link is displayed in the descriptive guide which instructs users to “Click here to enter the records”. Click the link to browse the records (see Figure 3, below).


Figure 3.

Individual series can be browsed on this page (see Figure 4, below.) Use the options on the left-hand side to refine your selection as needed. Click on the preview image (or red rectangle, when a preview image is not available) to view the series.


Figure 4.

Navigate using the preview images until you find the records that you are seeking. Scroll down the page to load additional results.

How to find related records

Descriptive guides also make a good starting point to find related records. The “Related Materials” section points to finding aids on TARO, which are more in-depth and describe paper records only accessible in the Archives reading room. Additionally, these finding aids may point to records of related collections in the Texas State Archives and other repositories.

Page last modified: September 10, 2018