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HIST 4302: American Collective Memory: CAC

About the CAC

The Center for Archival Collections (CAC), located on the 5th floor, is an archival repository. We collect official and unofficial records of the university (university archives), materials that document the history of northwest Ohio and the Great Lakes, rare books, and collections related to student affairs administration. Our strengths are in local history, Great Lakes maritime history, women's history, the Civil War, education, and all aspects of the social, cultural, economic, and industrial history of northwest Ohio. 

Materials in our holdings take a variety of forms and sizes, from textual reports and handwritten correspondence to film footage of athletic events and glass plates depicting rural life.

Accessing Materials in the CAC

We are open Monday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. When possible we recommend contacting the staff to make an appointment, so we can have your materials ready for you. Appointments are not required, but if you let us know in advance when you are coming and what you want to see, it can save you time. We'll ask you to complete some simple paperwork when you arrive and you'll be able to start right away.

None of our materials circulate, nor are they browseable. You can access them via our Reading Room on the 5th floor. To request materials, you'll need to identify a call number (for individually catalogued items) or a collection name and box number (for archival collections).

You can contact us by email or via reference chat Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for research assistance.

Searching the Catalog

Some of our materials are described individually in the library catalog; most of our holdings will have one record describing multiple boxes of materials with a link to our finding aids. Consider pairing searches of the catalog with searches of our finding aids, where you will find more in-depth information about collections.

If you find something that looks to be of interest, use the subject heading to find related materials. Some subject headings you may find useful within this course are:

Some resources that may be of interest include:

What is a Finding Aid?

Finding aids are detailed lists of the contents of collections, typically lists of folders (they rarely describe individual items in a collection). Finding aids provide historical context for the collection as well as dates, provenance (where the collection came from), and information about physical format(s).

Archivists often organize archival material into series. Series can be characterized by the type of item (e.g. photographs, letters), by date, or as the donor wished them to be organized. 

Finding aids are linked to records in the library catalog, but the catalog record does not provide much detail. To search across all of our finding aids, use our finding aids database (we are in the process of migrating databases; some catalog links may take you to our new interface, but the one linked here is the most comprehensive collection of all of our finding aids). You may also want to take a topical approach to browsing our finding aids. Lists of collections by topic are available from each of our collecting area pages.)

Requesting Something Listed in a Finding Aid

Because archival materials are generally maintained as collections and housed in boxes and folders, we need to know several pieces of information to pull items for you:

  • Collection name
  • Collection number
  • Box number
  • Folder number (optional, but something you'll likely want for your own notes as you may not need to consult all of the folders in the box)

This information should all be presented to you in the finding aid. Here are some of the ways or places where you might find that information:

Collection name and identifier:

Screen shot of a finding aid with the collection name and identifier highlighted


Box and folder:

Screen shot from a finding aid illustrating how to identify box and folder numbers

Other research supports

You can find titles of our newspapers in the catalog, but this webpage listing our holdings may be useful as well. An index of entries to Civil War letters appearing in regional newspapers was developed by Dan Masters.

General Tips

  • The words we use to describe ideas, academic units, and more change over time. If you don't find a match for your search, try a different term.
  • Don't just CTRL+F on a finding aid for your search term. Take time to read through folder titles. You'll most likely find other material of interest this way.
  • Research is an iterative process. You will learn as you go. As you learn new terms and topics, consider searching the catalog and finding aids again, using new terms and names discovered through your research.

Closed Stacks

Archival material is stored in boxes of varying sizes in closed (non-accessible) stacks).

Stacks area in the CAC showing a long row of shelving on each side of an aisle, boxes of various shapes and sizes fill the shelves.

Your contact

Profile Photo
Michelle Sweetser
528 Jerome Library
Subjects: History, Local

Archival Resources Available Elsewhere

No one archive can hold all records. We specialize! For those of you with topics focused outside our region, I suggest the following potential repositories of primary sources online:

  • The Online Archive of California contains finding aids and digitized resources from archives all over California. This would be a great resource for locating digitized primary sources related to Manzanar or personal experiences of Japanese Americans forcibly interned. Be aware that terminology surrounding this topic has evolved - evacuation, internment, and incarceration - may all be used in descriptions.
  • The Library of Congress' Chronicling America project has digitized many historical newspapers prior to 1923. This could be a useful source if you want to see how an event or events were depicted at the time they happened or at an anniversary of some kind.
  • Oklahoma Digital Prairie features a digital collection of original primary sources related to the Tulsa Race Massacre.