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Rare and Manuscript Collections

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Archival Guides

Archivists prepare guides to archival and manuscript collections, which are also known as finding aids. These guides typically contain a prose description of the collection and the person or organization that produced it, as well as a list of the contents that indicates how the collection is structured and where to find particular materials. See our FAQ below for more information about using the finding aids. Browse selected finding aids by subject below, or view alphabetical lists from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections or the Kheel Center. The browse lists are not a comprehensive record of our holdings or their contents. To search a more complete list of our collections, use the Cornell University Library Catalog. You can find collections with finding aids by searching below.

By Subject:


How do I gain access to the materials described in these records?

For general information regarding access to the collections and guidelines for users, see the Information for Visitors and Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives.

Are finding aids for all of Cornell’s archival and manuscript collections now available online?

No. Many collections do not have a container list (a detailed description of the collection’s contents), and the records for these collections are not available on this site. Other collections have container lists that have not yet been encoded. Incomplete records for these collections are available on site.

How can I find archival materials related to the topic that I’m researching?

Most of the finding aids that have so far been published online are available through the browse lists and can be searched using our website search tool above. To do a complete search of all archival and manuscript collections in Cornell University Library, go to the online catalog. You can restrict your search by clicking “Set Search Limits” on the search template pages. Searches can be restricted by format (select “Archival Manuscript”) and by location (select “Kroch Rare and Manuscript Collections” or “ILR Kheel Center”). You cannot search container lists using the online catalog, although catalog records do contain links to complete guides when such guides are available online.

Online searching can be complex, and our reference staffs are happy to assist you. The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections can be reached at (607) 255-3530 or To contact the Kheel Center, call (607) 255-3183 or send an e-mail to