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Using the CSU Dominguez Hills Archives & Special Collections

The CSUDH Archives & Special Collections Department have a number of research tools available to help direct patrons to archival & special collections, and to help search through collections and locate specific items. Throughout the research process, researchers are encouraged to contact one of the archivists for assistance at any time.

CSUDH University Library Website
The CSUDH Library Website is sometimes the best place to begin your search for materials in the Archives & Special Collections. You may begin your search in several different ways

University Library Catalog
When you are doing a general search of library materials, you can enter your subject matter or search term in the Find A Book Now field. If there is a book or archival collection that matches your search term, the results page will list the item and indicate its location as Arch/SpeColl. Note any information available about the item and bring it to Archives & Special Collections Department, where you can continue your search.

Archives & Special Collections Website
The Archives & Special Collections Website home page is the gateway to research in the department. Information about every collection is located in one of the major areas listed on the home page, including:

  • CSU Dominguez Hills Special Collections
  • CSU Dominguez Hills Digital Collections
  • CSU Dominguez Hills Archives
  • California State University Archives
  • CSU Dominguez Hills Rare Book Collections

There is a brief description of the type of material contained in each area. If you find the general area that matches your research need, click on the link to that area. (Note: suggestions for searching materials in CSU Dominguez Hills Digital Collections are noted separately following at the end of this section.)

Collection Home Pages
The home page for each collection listed above contains more detailed information about the type of materials contained there. At the top of each Collection Home Page, there is a Collections tab. When you click on that, it takes you to a page listing every individual collection contained in that area. In some cases, the individual collections are grouped onto another sub-page. Whether on the first Collections page, or on a sub page, each collection contains a link to an electronic finding aid, which is located in the Online Archive of California (OAC)

Using Finding Aids
Finding aids are the key tool for researching an archival collection. It contains a lot of information about the type of collection it is, where it came from, and the type of materials contained in it. In addition, the finding aid contains a container list, which describes what is inside every box in the collection.

While finding aids are invaluable tools, researchers should be aware that the finding aid often contains only general descriptions of what is contained in the collection. It might, for example, note that one box contains folders of Correspondence, but it does not describe every letter included inside the box. While there are sometimes specific materials listed, researchers should note that finding aids are best looked at as general guides to the collections, and are a starting point for research in the collection

The finding aids listed in the Online Archive of California display in PDF format, and they can be searched by keyword or name. This often allows researchers to focus on specific boxes, or even folders within boxes, when they start searching the collection. The OAC is an excellent tool for expanding research beyond CSU Dominguez Hills. It is well worth the time for any researcher to look through the OAC website to find additional avenues for research.

Researchers can use computers located in the Archives & Special Collections to search through OAC finding aids. Often paper copies of finding aids are available at the front desk, and these can be used for focusing research in a collection as well.

CSU Dominguez Hills Digital Collections
The CSU Dominguez Hills Digital Collections contains images that have been scanned from photographs, yearbooks, and other publications from CSU Dominguez Hills collections. The Digital Collections Home Page lists some general information and contains links to individual collections, currently including:

  • South Bay Photograph Collection
  • Del Amo Estate Company Collection
  • 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research Collection
  • Rancho San Pedro Collection
  • CSUDH Historical Photograph, Publication, and Yearbook Collection

You can search through the individual collections, or search them all at once

General Searches
If you have only a general idea of the type of information you want, you can enter a search term (including a name, street, city, or other term) in the search box in the upper right hand corner on the Digital Collections home page. When you press Enter, the system will automatically search across all collections. Thumbnails of all images that might match the term you entered will display on a Results page. You can search through these individually. When you click on one of the images that displays on the Results page, it will take you to a separate page for the image. This page will show a larger version of the image and will display information about the image, often including a description, date, location, image size, and keywords which may help you to focus your research through the rest of the collection.

From the Digital Collections home page you may also select the Browse All Collections option. This will give you thumbnails of a great number of images, though, and may not be helpful for research purposes.

Searching Individual Collections
The Digital Collections home page displays links for the individual collections. If you believe that one of these collections may be most helpful to you, click on the link. This will take you to a home page for that collection. This page will give you information about the collection, and also gives you some links to general areas of research in the collection (for example, oil, agriculture, buildings, etc.). If you click on one of these links, all images related to that general area will display.

In addition to these major areas of research, there is a Browse option that lets you look through every item in the collection.

Using the Advanced Search Option
If the above methods produce results that are too general for you, or bring up too many images for you to do an effective search, you can use the Advanced Search Option. This contains fields that let you focus your search more precisely by indicating exactly which words you want included in, or excluded from, the search. In addition, the Advanced Search option lets you indicate which collections you want included in the search.

Searching Beyond the Archives
In addition to materials available in the CSU Dominguez Hills Archives & Special Collections, researchers should at all times keep in mind the other research tools available in the CSU Dominguez Hills University Library. From the Library Home Page, go to Use The Library. There is a link to Subject Research Guides that have been prepared by University Reference Librarians. These offer lists of resources and search strategies that can be very helpful to you. The greatest resource in the library is always a librarian.