Physical Collections and Finding Aids


Finding aids are used by researchers to determine whether materials within a collection may be relevant to their research. While not exhaustive, finding aids help researchers identify the particular boxes or folders that may hold items of interest.

In the course of daily life, individuals, families, organizations, and businesses create and keep information about their activities. When such records are no longer needed on a day-to-day basis, a portion judged to possess enduring historical value may be preserved and maintained as archival collections. Archival records take many forms, including correspondence, diaries, financial and legal documents, photographs, and sound recordings. Archival materials may also include maps, scientific data, artifacts, and electronic records such as emails or databases.

Prepared by archival staff, finding aids provide a history of the person or organization that produced the collection, an overview of the collection, and a detailed list of the collection's contents.

Radford University Archives

Students use the library card catalog, ca. 1930s.

The Radford University Archives contains official records, documents, publications, photographs, and other materials related to the history of Radford University. The Archives contain official minutes and notes from the Board of Visitors, RU presidential papers, historic academic and business records, publications such as catalogs, yearbooks, and student newspapers. 

View the RU Archives finding aids.

Appalachian Collection

Photograph of a dam from the Rudolph and Theda Farmer Photograph Collection.

The Appalachian Collection contains manuscripts and other primary materials that document the history and culture of Southwest Virginia and Appalachia. Collections include the Highland Summer Conference Collection and the Virginia, Iron, Coal and Coke Company Collection . In addition to these collections, McConnell Library has an extensive collection of books, CDs, video recordings, journals, and other materials related to regional history, coal mining and labor unions, environmental action, and Appalachian literature.

View the Appalachian Collection finding aids.

Special Collections

Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours.

Special Collections includes manuscripts and other collections that are not part of the RU Archives or Appalachian Collection, including items from Radford alumni, manuscripts from Supreme Count Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, illuminated manuscripts, and other materials.

The Rare Book Collection includes over 6,000 books, including the core collection originally housed in the library when Radford University first opened as the State Normal and Industrial School at East Radford, Virginia, in 1913. Collection strengths include Appalachian and Virginia literature, Virginia and regional history, and 19th Century history and literature. The Rare Books Collection can be searched through the library's online catalog.

View the Special Collections finding aids.