Here are some quidelines for using the MASC indexes:
Use this index to locate material associated with a specific individual.
Most often this means letters written by or to the author, but it may also
include folders, larger bulks, and collections of material. If you want
to know what manuscript material the Department holds for an author, this
is the index to use. Examples:
will retrieve all records of authors whose last name is Jones.
will retrieve all records of authors whose last name is Jones and
first name begins with A. Note the space after the comma.
Jones, Andrew will retrieve all records
of authors whose last name is Jones and first name is Andrew.
Browse the author index if you are unsure of the correct spelling of
an author's name.
This is, perhaps, the least useful of the indexes, though it allows you
to collate all records for a specific collection. It is probably a better
idea to use initial truncation because of the variations of collection
names (i.e., "Papers of John Doe", "John Doe Papers", "John Doe
Collection" etc.). Example:
*Caroline Gordon to find all the records of
collections with the words Caroline Gordon
Use this index to find material related to a specific year. In the
actual database record, dates may include brackets ("[date]") to indicate
that the year is supplied from other sources, or they may contain a question
mark ("[date?]") or circa ("ca.1855") to suggest a reasonable estimate.
However, do not use these punctuation marks in your search value, for they
have been stripped off for indexing purposes. Examples:
1786 to find material
dating from that year
find material dating from the 1830s
Dates for ancient coins are usually not specific to a year--rather,
they are representative of a period. Hence, most indexing entries
for numismatic records will look like this:
400-300 meaning 400-300 B.C.
103-109 meaning 103-109 A.D.
As a result, you might want to browse the index first and/or familiarize
yourself with Library of Congress Subject Headings for Greece and Rome,
where appropriate period divisions are given.
Use this index to find material about specific topics, such as the
Civil War, or to locate specific kinds of material, such as diaries.
Searches in this index are most likely to retrieve collection-level records
since subjects and forms of material are most often attributed to aggregate
collections of material. (Letters, for example, will not retrieve
records describing an individual's letters. For that, use the author index.)
For the most part, elements in this index are Library of Congress Subject
Headings (LCSH)--so that the search value you use should be constructed,
left to right, as a subject heading. Example:
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
This applies to forms of material as well, with the form term coming
at the end. Example:
Novelists, American--19th century--Diaries
Remember that these phrases can be truncated at any point. If you are
unfamiliar with LCSH, you should probably start your subjec/form searches
by browsing the index first.
The description element is only found in indexing records to identify the
type of material in a particular location: letters, documents, maps, coins,
drawings, etc. Using this index, you have access to the most specific information
about a given item. Since descriptions are variable, browsing this index
will not be that profitable. Instead, it is best to use the word truncation
Common abbreviations for letters are: ALS (autograph letter signed),
TLS (typed letter signed), TNS (typed note signed).
This element is found only in collection-level records, and provides (in
paragraph form) summary information about the collection: ranges and types
of material, people, subjects and places covered. Word searches would prove
the most useful.
This element constitutes part of the authority record for authors in MASC.
It allows one to search for holdings related to authors of different nationalities.
In MASC, a nationality is assigned to an author based on residence not
birth. If someone was born in France but came to Canada as a small
child, his/her nationality would be listed as Canadian. Because so many
of the Department's holdings relate to American and English authors, those
two nationalites should be avoided. Examples:
Common abbreviations for manuscripts are: AMsS (autograph manuscript
signed), TMsS (typed manuscript signed).
This index could be anded with another index to find more specific
holdings, i.e., Cuban material from the 1940s.
This element also forms part of the authority record for authors in MASC.
It is most closely associated with the academic discipline in which the
person worked or where his/her work would be "classified," for example,
chemistry, theatre, government. This index would be useful for identifying
holdings that may document (or result from) such activities. The difference
with the "identity" index is that MASC uses a controlled list of disciplines,
which would tend to gather (limit?) groups of people: senators and presidents
both have "government" as a discipline.
This authority element consists of nouns that help narrow the identity
of a particular author, such as "theologian," "illustrator," and "librarian."
It is probably most useful when used in connection with another index to
seek holdings that are the products of such "authors." MASC identifes all
teachers, instructors, and professors as "educators" and all writers as
philosopher [and Subject/Form *correspondence]