Request a Particular Box within a Collection

Sometimes, researchers who have visited before know exactly which box within a collection they want to see. They may prefer to search for that box rather than looking through the whole finding aid to find it.

Luckily, there’s a very easy way to do this. Once you’re in the finding aid for the collection that you want to see, search for “Box X” (with X, of course, being the box number you’re looking for).

Search for a box within a collection. Be sure to surround your search with quotation marks.

Search for a box within a collection. Be sure to surround your search with quotation marks.

And the results of your search will return records contained in the box you specified.

Here, you see records that are in box 135 of the Harold Medina papers.

Here, you see records that are in box 135 of the Harold Medina papers.

And to request these items, click on the title to go to the entry in the finding aid and click the button that says “Request this Box.”

As always, don’t hesitate to call or email us if you have questions about this process.

Glossary — Arrangement

Arrangement is the order of the materials in a collection. Sometimes, the arrangement of the collection is an exact representation of how the creator kept it. Other times, an archivist or intermediary put materials into a different arrangement. Usually, records are arranged as a hybrid of what worked for the creator and what the archivist anticipated would make sense to users.

Your Comments

In some cases, you may know more about our materials than we do! Please feel free to leave a comment letting us know if you’ve seen a mistake, if you have additional information, or if there’s something that you think other patrons might like to know about our materials.
If you need help, please click the “Get Help” button near the top of the page.
And if you have any feedback about our site as a whole, we would love to hear that too. Just click on the “Site Feedback” button above.

Narrowing Search Results

There are two ways of narrowing search results on this site.

First, more search terms will result in fewer results. Notice that the original search term is already in the box — simply add more terms to get more precise results.
If you know that there’s a term that you definitely don’t want to see results for, just put a minus sign ( – ) in front of it. For instance, if you were interested in the history of women at Princeton, but you didn’t want results related to coeducation, simply enter “women Princeton -coeducation”.
Second, you can use the terms on the left of the screen to narrow down your results to entire categories of content.

Advanced tips:
Archival collections are organized by who collected the materials, not what the materials are about. You may be pleasantly surprised by searching outside of the collections that you think an item should be in.
Results in the “name,” “genre,” and “subject” facets can be thought of as tags — if an item has been tagged with any of the terms in the list, it will appear in the revised results. But some relevant results may not have been tagged — narrowing this way may result in missing good material!

Sorting Lists of Materials

This site makes it possible to manipulate long inventories of materials to find what you’re looking for.
From the tree on the left of the page, you can choose a group of records. From there, the center of the screen will show a list of everything in this group (or subgroup) of records.
To sort them chronologically, click on the “Date” heading. You can also sort them alphabetically by clicking the “Title” heading, and sort them into their physical arrangement by clicking the “Container” heading.
In some cases, there may be a list within a list — the container information will say “Multiple Containers”. Simply click on that title to see the contents held within.

Effective Searching

When searching, it’s good to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Try lots of different terms. “Sylvia Beach letters” will produce different results than “Sylvia Beach correspondence”.
  2. The more words you use in your search, the fewer results will come back to you. “Woodrow Wilson” will produce fewer results than “Wilson”, but not all of the Wilsons that are produced may be about Woodrow.
  3. Using a minus sign (-) will exclude a term from results. If you’re interested in Ray Stannard Baker, but you keep getting results for James A. Baker III, a good search might be “Ray Baker -James”.

Getting a Broader Understanding of Collections

The search results on our site will often take you very close to what you were looking for. If this is all the information you need, you can request the item and have it brought to you in our reading room.
But sometimes researchers want to get a broader understanding of what this material is and where it came from. Luckily, there’s usually plenty more information about the rest of the materials in the collection, where they came from, what they’re about, and who collected them.
The “Collection History” tab near the left of the finding aid will tell you about what happened to this material before it came to us, and how archivists intervened in the preparation of these records for research use.
Archivists also write short essays providing a sense of the history of the materials and a general sense of what a researcher will find within. You can find that information on the “Description” tab on the left.
For a quick view of how the materials in the collection are arranged, click on the “Contents” tab. This will often give a short explanation of how and why materials were arranged this way, and will also show an abstraction of the collection’s contents.

How to See Archival Materials

In a small-but-growing number of cases, this material may already be scanned and available online. Feel free to peruse these files online or download them to use at your convenience.


Otherwise, you will need to visit us in person to see these materials. Simply click the request box, give us some information about your visit, and hit submit, and the materials will be available for you when you arrive. To learn more about visiting us, please feel free to click the “Repositories” button near the top of the page.

Please note that in some cases, materials are stored off-site. We require 48-72 hours notice before your visit to ensure that they will be waiting for you when you arrive.
Finally, some of our materials may not yet be open for research use (there will be a note on the finding aid to tell you this). However, please feel free to be in touch — we may be able to help you find alternate materials that address your research needs, and we are always happy to explain access restrictions.

Statement on Copyright Restrictions

These documents can only be used for educational and research purposes (“Fair use”) as per U.S. Copyright law (text below). By accessing this file, all users agree that their use falls within fair use as defined by the copyright law. They further agree to request permission of the Princeton University Library (and pay any fees, if applicable) if they plan to publish, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate this material. This includes all forms of electronic distribution.

 U.S. Copyright law test

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.  Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction.  One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or other reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.”  If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or other reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

Policy on Digitized Collections

Digitized collections are made accessible for research purposes.  We have indicated what we know about copyright and rights of privacy, publicity or trademark in our finding aids.  However, due to the nature of archival collections, it is not always possible to identify this information.  We are eager to hear from any rights owners, so that we may provide accurate information.  When a rights issue needs to be addressed, upon request we will remove the material from public view while we review the claim.

Inquiries about these policies can be directed to:

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ  08540
609-258-6345
609-258-3385 (fax)
mudd@princeton.edu