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Begin your search here by exploring our three different research platforms.

The Archives

What’s Inside?
Explore a wide range original historical documents on American industry. Our finding aids describe collections research ready.

The Library

What’s inside?
Search through published materials, including books, periodicals, manuscripts, and trade catalogues covering a broad range of subjects.

Digital Assets

What’s Inside?
Access electronic copies of select photographs, documents, publications and more completely online.

Ready to Research in Person?

Schedule an appointment, speak to a librarian or archivist, or ask about our available collections.

Research Assistance

The Industrial Archives & Library strives to provide user-friendly access to records. However, not everyone is a professional researcher. Check out these guides to learn more about how to perform research at IAL.

Archives Support

Using Archival Resources

This video is intended to help new archival researchers learn about finding aids. By the end of this video, you should be able to:

  • Define a finding aid
  • Understand the key elements in a finding aid
  • Reading a finding aid on ArchivesSpace
  • Request to see archival materials

Want to learn more about how archives are arranged and described? Check out the Society of American Archivists’ “Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research.”

How to Use ArchivesSpace

This video is intended to teach researchers how to use ArchivesSpace. After this video, you should be able to:

  • Perform a basic keyword search on ArchivesSpace
  • Navigate the public interface to search by Collection
  • Search by Subjects and Agents
  • Request to see archival materials

Learn more about the public interface and advanced search features here.

Library Support

How to Search the Library Catalog

This video is intended to teach researchers how to use the library catalog, WMS Discovery. After watching this video, you should be able to:

  • Perform a basic search on WMS Discovery
  • Narrow down your search with filters
  • Read an entry for relevant information 
  • Request access to library materials

Need more help? Learn more about WMS Discovery here.

Research Tips & Tricks

In need of guidance or help in your research discovery? These useful tips and tricks can get you started down the right path.


Be precise in your research queries. Know what kinds of materials you are looking for before you start.


Be reasonable in what you want to research. A single cubic foot can be up to 2,500 pages!

Boolean Terms

Use Boolean phrases (and/or/not) to help narrow down your online research.

Take Notes

Write down the collection name, box or folder number, ISBN, link or other important information while researching. That way it’s easy to reference at a later date. Or to help us pull the right materials.


Prepare ahead of time for on-site research. Let us know what you are looking for so we can pull materials.

Learn the Ins & Outs

Learn the rules and procedures of on-site research before coming to visit.

Starting Out

If you don’t know where to start, try searching the archives database. That has the most robust listing of records available for research.

Beyond Digital

Don’t rely just on digitized materials. While some photographs and documents are available online, so many more are in boxes waiting to be used.

Start at the Top

When researching in the archives, start with the Collections level then drill down. Not every item will be listed in an archive, so you can’t always do a keyword search.

Contact Us

When in doubt, contact us. Trained archivists and librarians can help you find what you need.