Wednesday 7 April 2021

Finding Aids - AJCP

Finding Aids are the Guides to the collections

Within the AJCP there are more than 10,000 pages of descriptive text. Many of these are the Finding Aids or Guides to the collections. Original finding aids were published as handbooks to accompany all the microfilms. These text Handbooks are found through the National Library catalogue. View this example of a digitised page of the Handbook of the Miscellaneous series Part 8.

The project team added more information to these aids as the conversion to digital was made. The text of these online Finding Aids is searchable. This means that if any personal and family names, organisational names, subjects, geographical locations or dates are mentioned in a Finding Aid, they can be found through search. 

So now we can find Stephen Brennand mentioned in the above digitised example page, through a simple search because his name is mentioned in a digitised Finding Aid. If your ancestor was fortunate enough to be mentioned in a Finding aid, a simple search should reveal the records.

As with any search, one needs to try variations of the order of names as well as the spelling. Sometimes the surname is followed by first names or a title with surname. 

Searching within a Finding Aid

The Finding Aid for the Records of the Colonial Office is one of the largest as it contains the links to approximately 40% of the AJCP records. You may need to wait sometime for it to load.

I am particularly interested in records about South Australia. Each Finding Aid has a dedicated Search bar in the top right hand corner allowing one to narrow a search to within that guide.

If I use South Australia in this Search within this finding aid, there are 3982 results in the Colonial Office. As with other phrases, a more accurate search with the terms enclosed in quotation marks gives a narrower result of 1102 results.

Further options to narrow that search are provided in the facets on the right.. Of particular use in this instance, is the ability to narrow by Decade. There are only 136 records for 1840 -1849, my dates of interest.

If I decide to narrow my search further to "South Australia" AND emigration, in that decade only 2 results are displayed.

On selecting the second result in this list I am now presented with a comprehensive list of films specifically related to my search within the Records of the Colonial Office.

It was in these records that I found a gt-gt grandfather's embarkation details.

There are multiple ways to find material within the AJCP. Using the Finding Aids effectively is just one of those methods. Search on!

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  1. This is an awesome resource Carmel. I’m going to come back to it after AtoZ is over and study each post more thoroughly

    1. To start with I got quite lost in all the collections but slow and steady revealed how much could be found. glad you are finding these posts useful.

  2. Shared the link to your series in a zoom tonight with our FHG here at Lake Macquarie. Members were most impressed and looking forward to the whole series.

    1. Thanks Jill for adding some more audience.


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