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Using Special Collection's SCOUT

This guide introduces users to SCOUT, the system for searching manuscript collections and University Archives at the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Tennessee.

What is a Finding Aid?

finding aid is a resource that contains contextual and structural information about a collection of records within an archive.

Finding aids place archival resources in context by including information about the collection, such as:

  • acquisition and processing
  • provenance, including administrative history or biographical note
  • scope of the collection, including size, subjects, media
  • organization and arrangement, often with an inventory of the series and the folders.

Source: SAA Dictionary of Archives Terminology

Organization of Materials

Typically, archival collections are described from general to specific, starting with the whole (collection), then proceeding to the components (series, subseries, folders, and items).


A place where things can be stored and maintained, including any type of organization that holds documents, including business, institutional, government archives, and manuscript collections. There is only one repository in SCOUT, Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives. 


A set of archival or manuscript materials that share the same provenance or were created in the same administrative unit.


A group of similar records that are arranged according to a filing system and that are related as the result of being created, received or used in the same activity.


A body of documents within a series readily distinguished from the whole by filing arrangement, type, form, or content.


A group of documents related by use or topic, typically housed in a folder (or a group of folders for a large file).

Source: SAA Dictionary of Archives Terminology

ArchivesSpace Terminology

Here are a few terms that you will encounter while browsing in SCOUT:

Resource Record

Where a user can access the bulk of information about the intellectual and physical characteristics of archival materials, as well as information about creators and topics.


An identification number assigned to a resourceaccession, and digital object records that uniquely identifies the object within the repository. This is also known as the Collection Number.

Source: ArchivesSpace Help Center Glossary

Elements of a Finding Aid

Finding aids in SCOUT are divided into three sections: 

Collection Overview
This page displays the primary elements of the finding aid, including the scope and contents notedate(s) associated with the collectioncreator informationconditions governing access and usebiographical and historical notes, and additional descriptive information.
Collection Organization
This page contains an expanded view of the objects that comprise the collection and the manner in which they are organized in containers, including boxes and folders.
Container Inventory
This page displays the top-level containers in a collection and allows users to navigate by clicking on the container to view the records contained within.
Screenshot marked up to show where to change the Collection Overview, Collection Organization, and Container Inventory
The structure and content of this library guide were adapted from MIT Libraries' Using MIT Archivespace library guide.