The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Website Search Tips
The Archives website contains a wealth of information about Smithsonian history and the collections we maintain to document the Institution's past. To help navigate through thousands of collection guides, historical notes, references, and digitized media available on the website, here are a few tips.
There are three search options; website, collections, and collection guides. You can access all three with the main search at the top of the page.
1) Website Search - This will search online exhibits, history pages, blog posts, and other general information on the site. For example, entering "Spencer Baird" (the Smithsonian's second Secretary) into the search box at the top right of our home page will result in several places where we mention Baird in informational pages and online exhibits.
2) If, however, you are interested in actual collections of records and personal papers, or digitized media concerning Baird, the Collections Search option will be best. Clicking on the "Collections" tab will display links to collection summaries and associated finding aids, as well as images of Baird that are currenlty available online.
3) An even more detailed search of collection inventories (box and folder listings of collections) can be conducted using the Finding Aids Search option. This will return results where Baird is mentioned not just in a basic collection summary (a few paragraphs broadly describing a collection), but also in folder titles.
Another point of entry into the Collections and Finding Aids searches is by clicking on "Collections" near the top of left of our website at any time during your visit.
We invite you to explore our collections and give feedback. As always, though, you can contact us directly via our Reference Inquiry Form which is also available from each finding aid and collection summary. Our Reference Team will be happy to help you find exactly what you need.