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Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation at Lauinger Library

This guide highlights the primary source documents at Lauinger Library that supports the goals of Georgetown University's Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative.

Contact Us

The Booth Family Center for Special Collections is located on the 5th floor Lauinger. Its staff are available to discuss research projects and help users find materials relevant to their needs. 

Reference inquiries may be made

The Booth Family Center for Special Collections is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Researchers should contact Booth staff to make an appointment before their visit to ensure the availability of source materials. 

Research Strategies and Tips for Using Special Collections

Booth Family Center for Special Collections is a repository that identifies, preserves, and makes available rare research materials. Its collections are curated to guarantee their authenticity and their relevance to researchers both within and outside the Georgetown community. Located on the fifth floor of Lauinger Library, Booth is an environmentally controlled facility to protect these materials. Researchers are asked to follow special rules and procedures to access its unique, non-circulating materials.

For researchers interested in most of the materials held by Booth, appointments are required since most  collections are stored off-site. The catalogues and resource descriptions held by Booth are available online. Researchers must register and request materials using the Aeon Request System

Tips for the most commonly used search portals for the holdings described in this guide are below. There also are specific instructions for accessing the Georgetown University Arts Collections and Rare Books in the sections that address those collections. 

Search tips -- Georgetown University Archival Resources

The Manuscripts and University Archives share a common search portal for their archival collections: Georgetown University Archival Resources. From this page, it is possible to search finding aids, documents created by BFCSC to help researchers access manuscripts and institutional records that are described collectively (rather than individually like books or works of art). These finding aids provide a description of the contents and arrangement of each collection, which typically consist of files and items that are grouped into series because of their common subject and function.

On the portal, it is also possible to search the collection by keyword. The results will include results from all finding aids, including descriptions of a collection, series, or file folder.  The collection page is signified by its title with the word "Collection" printed in red. This page provides a scope and content note as well as additional descriptive information such as a biography/administrative history. It is possible to limit results by searching by title or creator. All searches can be limited by date.

On the right of the page, researchers will find a pane "Collection Organization." It is possible to search within the collection by keyword, limited by a date range. Researchers also can hover over the left edge of that section and slide the cursor to the left to see the series, papers grouped together because of a common subject or function. It is then possible to see sub-series and item level descriptions by clicking on the arrow >.

Search tips -- Digital Georgetown

Digital Georgetown is the repository for all items digitized by the Library. Staff is committed to identifying important areas of Booth collections and placing them online to provide access to as many as people as possible. It is important to note that the digitized collections are only a small subset of Booth holdings.

When consulting Digital Georgetown, researchers interested in most materials held by Booth should search by creator, author, collection title, and relevant keyword within the Digital and Special Collections page. This page also lists the sub-communities within Special Collections. It is strongly advised that researchers search within specific sub-communities, such as Selections from Manuscript Collections, if they know which collections they would like to use. It is then possible to sort the results by creators, titles, and creation dates.

Digitized printed texts, such as typeset documents, newspapers and other University publications, also enable researchers to search for phrases within the text. Open the document and press ctrl-f for the search bar.

Keyword searches -- All Search Portals

Keyword searches provide an important tool for researchers, particularly when they are not searching for a particular author, title, or subject heading. It is best to keep in mind these general rules for keyword searches to create useful results: 

  • Leave out unnecessary words and letters. 
  • Place in quotes, words that should be kept together. For example, "St. Thomas Manor," "John McElroy"
  • Use AND to limit searches. For example, sacrament AND "St. Inigoes;" "St. Joseph's Church" AND "Eastern Shore"
  • Use OR to expand searches. This can be useful for terms that have changed over time. For example, colored OR Black OR negro.
  • Truncate words by inserting an asterisk (*). For example, search slave*, instead of slavery, slaves, slaver; *slave* for enslaved, enslavement. 

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