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HIST495: Introduction to Historical Interpretation (History Honors)

Guide for history honors students.

Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Library (MARBL) on the web

To begin searching for materials housed in MARBL, visit our website. Here, you will find information about our various holdings in manuscript collections, archives, and rare books. You may also want to begin to familiarize yourself with our holdings by visiting our Introduction to Collections page.

MARBL also maintains a number of guides to specific areas of our collections. Depending on your area of research, consider exploring our guides on African American History and Culture or Atlanta History. These guides can help you to become familiar with the language used to describe archival materials and start to think of search terms for your own research.

Understanding Finding Aids

The material in archival collections is housed in boxes and folders, and described in documents called Finding Aids. A finding aid will provide you with basic information about a collection's contents, a brief biography of the individual who created the collection, and any information about restrictions on use of the materials. Often, collections are broken down into series; for these collections, the finding aid will also contain a brief description of each series.

Last but not least, a finding aid contains a detailed list of the materials found in a collection. Here is a sample from the finding aid for the Confederate Miscellany collection (MSS20):

As you can see, this finding aid provides you with the names and dates of the letters contained in the collection. Not all finding aids will have this level of detail. A folder might be labeled "Correspondence, 1910-1920," or "Printed Material, Newspaper Clippings." Consider looking through these folders as well, even if you don't immediately know from the folder title that the material is relevant to your research. You never know what you might find!

You can search MARBL's finding aids at our website: To search the collections, enter your search term in the search field.

HINT: Do not place quotes around your search term if using a phrase; our database is currently not capable of processing the quotation marks, and this will keep you from obtaining any search results.

When you find a collection you are interested in using, write down the collection name, its manuscript number (MSS number), and the boxes you would like to see. You can email all of this information to prior to your research visit!


Conducting research in MARBL

Archives and special collections libraries often have special requirements for using their resources. Here, you'll find basic background information on conducting research in Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

MARBL is located on the 10th floor of the Woodruff Library. During the academic year, our hours are 9:00-5:00 Monday through Friday. We are open on Saturday by appointment, only. We are closed on Sunday. You can contact MARBL at (404) 727-6887 or

The materials in MARBL are rare, often fragile, and often very valuable. Therefore, when you come to the tenth floor to do research, you are asked to show proof of your identity, keep a record of what you use, and you will have strict guidelines for how you use the materials during your visit. It may seem like there are a lot of rules associated with using MARBL materials. Remember that we want you to use our materials and we’re glad you are doing so. Our rules are in place to protect our materials and to make sure that they remain available to other students and researchers in the future. If you have any questions about a rule, please feel free to ask us for more information.



Preparing for your visit

Depending on your course, the items you will work with may be pre-selected for you. If they are, you will come to MARBL and request the materials on hold under your instructor’s name. You will also need to:

1. Sign in at the Researcher Daily Sign-in notebook.

 2. Fill out a Researcher Application (first visit only)

3. Show a photo ID (first visit only)

It is also always useful to us to know when you are coming, and so if possible we recommend that you email ahead of time with your name, course, instructor’s name, and when you plan to visit.



What to bring

We suggest that you bring the following items with you to MARBL:

1. Pencil and notebook

2. Computer

3. Digital camera

Please do not bring pens, gum, food, or drinks of any kind, unless they are sealed and can be left in your locker. You may also want to bring money for photocopies. For Emory students, the first 20 pages of photocopies are free, and subsequent pages cost $.25 per page. We accept cash or checks; we do not accept credit or Emory cards.



Using the Materials

MARBL materials must be used in our reading room; MARBL materials cannot be checked out. Before you enter the reading room, you will be asked to put all other belongings in a locker. Make sure to keep track of what you are using for your citations and/or bibliography

How to cite MARBL resources

Rare books that are part of MARBL's collection are cited using the same format you will use for general stacks books.

Manuscript Collections have their own form of citation. Different archives or special collections libraries may have slight variations in the way they ask that you cite their materials. For MARBL collections, look at the first page of the finding aid, where MARBL's archvist have provided the preferred citation format for each collection. Generally, the citation will look at follows:

[identification of item(s)], [name of collection], Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Additional Help

If you have additional questions or would like help locating resources in MARBL, please feel free to contact us:

By email at

By phone at 404-727-6887

Or by coming in to speak with a member of our research services team. MARBL is located on the 10th floor of the Woodruff Library. We are open from 9am to 5:30pm Monday through Saturday.

How do I find archives NOT at Emory?

These databases search finding aids, which are box-level descriptions of manuscript collections.


‚ÄčGoogle Search: Search for a keyword and "finding aid" in Google

You can also use Worldcat to find archives and special collections.

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