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HIST 4025/6025 History of Material Culture Fall 2019: Material Culture Sources @ UGA Special Collections

Resources and information for using UGA special collections materials for 4025 research projects

Searching for Material Culture in Archives @ UGA

Most special collections or archives like the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies or the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library maintain large online databases of information  about their collections. Each collection has a finding aid or guide that outlines the organization of the materials it contains--think lists of boxes and folder titles organized to keep related materials together.

To find material culture in archives it is helpful to be conversant with the terms used to describe the phsycial nature of items, from general terms like "object", "artifact", "material" or "textile" to more specific terms like "campaign memorabilia", "uniform" or "tool". 

At UGA special collections, both the Hargrett Library and the Russell Library use the term "artifact"  in their finding aids to group together non-textual records into an organizational grouping called a series.

Therefore "artifact" is a great place to start your search if you want to move beyond the items we have selected for the class. 

To get a feel for the process of keyword searching and browsing this database, enter "artifact" into the search engine and browse the results. See the results for this search here: 

See what a search for "artifact" yields in the Hargrett Library collections here 

See what a search for "artifact" yields in the Russell Library collections here

If you find something neat from searching and browsing the databases of the special collections departments, you can request the item from the database and come in to the research rooms at the special collections library building and view it.  

 What if you don't find what you want?  

  • Brainstorm other terms that describe your topic. 
  • Remember, to think historically--what words did people use at the time to describe or discuss your topic? 
  • Remember think like a file clerk--what are some simple organizational strategies that you might use to organize files--alphabetical by contact's last name, chronological by name, functional arrangement--by the division or team in an office--for example, the public relations office files. 
  • All of this brainstorming should give you some more terms to try. 


Subject Guide

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Jill Severn
Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries
300 South Hull St.