This article describes a study of the retrieval of on-line archival finding aids using two Internet search engines. The study was conducted to assess the value of electronic full-text finding aids as tools for locating archival collections. Topical subject headings and personal name headings were chosen from on-line inventories produced by the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Keyword, phrase, and Boolean searches were developed using the topical subject headings; keyword and phrase searches were conducted for each personal name. The first one hundred documents retrieved by each search were examined to determine the number of SHC finding aids retrieved. The study found that searches often retrieved unmanageably large result sets and that the majority of SHC finding aids containing the search terms were not among the first one hundred documents retrieved. These results suggest that on-line archival descriptions are often not accessible through common methods of Internet searching and that archivists must continue to develop means to help researchers locate their collections.

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