Prior to 1990, all manuscript collections were cataloged individually and are described in the Center's card catalog. The online finding aids represent collections newly cataloged or recataloged into finding aid form since 1990. Many important collections (including uncataloged ones) are not accessible through the website. For information about these materials, it is necessary to contact a curator.
The finding aid for a fully cataloged collection contains a biographical sketch, scope and contents note, series descriptions, folder list, and index of correspondents. The longer finding aids have been divided into several files, usually one for each component of the inventory, to facilitate use on the web. Preliminary inventories of incompletely cataloged collections contain a scope and contents note and folder list, but no biographical sketch or index of correspondents.