Until further notice, the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collectionsare open by appointment only and appointments are limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit to enable us to page and quarantine collection materials before use.

We will begin taking appointments on September 8 for September 15 research visits. Please contact ascref@umn.edu for assistance or, if known, the curator of the collecting area you wish to use. We will continue to provide scans of requested research materials whenever possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

How to search

There are mutliple ways to find archival collections, use the collection search tools to conduct your search. If you are new to using archival collection guides or having trouble finding what you need, try our Archives and Special Collections Tutorial on what we have and how to find it all. If you need further assistance, contact the general Reference Desk or specific unit staff.

Collection search tools

Archival collection guides

An archival collection guide, sometimes called a finding aid, is guide to a group of archival records, personal papers, or manuscripts. It may be a brief summary, or a detailed description and inventory. The collection guide describes the origin, extent, dates, contents, topics, and organization of the records.

Published collection guides are available through the University of Minnesota Collections Guides database, but not all collections have published guides. For tips on how to search, visit Searching archival collection guides.

Search archival collection guides

Digital collections

Our digital collections are housed in UMedia, an online platform for digitized archival material. It includes images, media, and records from Archives and Special Collections. Not all of our materials are digitized. 

Search digital collections

Libraries catalog

The University of Minnesota Libraries catalog, also called MNCAT, will include catalog information for rare and special books, periodicals, and other publications held by our units.

Search libraries catalog

Not finding what you need?

A staff person in Archives and Special Collections will be glad to assist you.


Tip: If you don't get any search results, try terms that were used in the era you are researching. For example, the historical term "hygiene" gets more results than the modern term "wellness."