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Special Collections: Primary Resources in Politics, Policy and Government Research Guide

Finding Special Collections Material

Printed collections

Published items held in Special Collections, such as books, journals, pamphlets, and broadsides, are searchable in DELCAT.  It is possible to limit your search to ONLY materials held in Special Collections by selecting the box next to "Special Collections" under the "Library" tab on the sidebar. Material from Special Collections will display the location information as "Special Collections Non-Circulating."

Special Collections search box in DELCAT

For additional information on how to search Special Collections in DELCAT, such as how to limit or sort by date, please refer to the Using DELCAT Discovery guide.

Manuscripts and archives

Special Collections' manuscript and archival collections contain a wide range of materials, such as personal papers, letters, diaries, scrapbooks, drafts, photographs, business records, reports, ephemera, audio, video, and born-digital content. The guides to these collections are called finding aids and they can be browsed and searched here:  Not all finding aids or collection descriptions are online, so please contact Special Collections if you need help with your search.

Suggested Search Terms

Below is a list of suggested Library of Congress subject terms that can be used to locate material in both DELCAT Discovery and the online finding aids.

For printed material in the catalog (e.g. books, pamphlets), you can search by creator using the prefix "au:" before your search term or conduct a subject search using the prefix "su:" before your search term. Remember to limit your search to "Special Collections." 

You can also use Library of Congress subject terms to search the finding aids. Our finding aids also allow for plain language keyword searching like Google. Note, however, that plain language searching will return any finding aid containing the exact search term you use (no synonyms). You can also limit search results by date range, name, location and format using the filters on the side of the page.

A note on historic search/subject terms: Words and phrases to describe people, places and issues have changed over time (e.g. "greenhouse gasses" to "global warming" to "climate change"). Use historical language to develop synonyms to your search terms to find a wider array of sources. Contact Special Collections if you need assistance in identifying appropriate keywords for your research.  


Sample keyword/subject terms:

  • Legislation
  • Legislators–United States-Biography
  • Delaware
  • Delaware–Politics and government
  • Delaware-Politics and government-1865-1950
  • Delaware-Politics and government-1951-       
  • Politics and government
  • Political science
  • Government
  • United States–Politics and government
  • United States–Politics and government–20th century
  • United States–Politics and government–21st century
  • United States. Congress. Senate

  • United States. Congress. House
  • United States. Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972
  • United States. Coastal Zone Management Improvement Act of 1980
  • United States. Clean Air Act
  • United States. Congress. House. Committee on the Judiciary