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Home / Intro.: About and Hints, USDA History Collection

Intro.: About and Hints, USDA History Collection

The USDA History Collection

About This Web Site

The major feature of this site is the finding aid (formal title: Guide to the USDA History Collection). A finding aid is a research tool used to describe a collection of documents held by an archives, library or museum. It presents a detailed description of the collection, its major subdivisions, and the intellectual organization of the materials.

The finding aid is the primary point of access for anyone doing research in the collection, and can help in determining if the collection will satisfy the informational needs of the researcher. Notes on "How to Use the Guide" can be found in the References and Research Guides section of this Web site.

This site also includes:

  • a Collection Map that diagrams the structure of the entire Collection and provides links to different areas;
  • Collection Highlights, a presentation of scanned images of selected documents;
  • an Image Gallery, showing photographs, maps, drawings, and other graphic materials;
  • a section of References and Research Guides (described further in the following paragraph);
  • and a Search page that will perform keyword, phrase, and Boolean searches on the entire site.

The References and Research Guides section includes notes on using the finding aid, and brings together additional information about people and topics covered in the collection. Here you will find suggestions for resources outside the collection to consult for further study. References include books and materials in the National Agricultural Library general or special collections, lists of other libraries and archives holding similar materials, and links to resources on the World Wide Web. There are also links to AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access), a database of bibliographic records created by the National Agricultural Library which is searchable via the World Wide Web.

Hints for Researchers
  • Go to the title page of the Guide for an overview of the USDA History Collection and what it contains. Scroll through the Scope and Content Note and the brief Series Descriptions.
  • Use the Collection Map, which will take you to any part of the Guide in one click, to navigate quickly through the many scope notes and container lists for each of the series and subseries in the collection.
  • The Navigation Bar at the bottom of this and most other pages in this site contains a link to the Guide, the Collection Map and other important features of the Web site, including this introduction.
Nature of the Collection

The USDA History Collection was created by historians who gathered material from many sources, and organized it to suit their research needs. For many researchers, the unique organization of these documents will enhance the value of the collection. Much of this material may be available elsewhere, since the collection contains many secondary sources (printed items, or duplicate copies of letters and memoranda), but here it is arranged in a system, based on detailed subject breakdowns concerning agricultural topics and USDA activities, that brings together items that may be widely scattered in other repositories.

Also, much primary source material can be found in this collection, including original correspondence, memoranda, drafts of government reports, and manuscripts of books and articles. Such documents are located throughout the collection, often filed as large blocks that almost constitute discrete sub-collections, but frequently mixed among secondary materials as well. The presence of unique and rare material is highlighted throughout the finding aid in the detailed scope and content notes for each series.

We hope you find this Web site and finding aid useful. Please contact us with your questions and comments.

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