Friendly Finding Aid

Friendly Finding Aid (FFA)

The Friendly Finding Aid project provides simplified finding aids designed for NHD students to make researching easier while using locally-available archival collections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click the drop-down boxes to see brief answers to some of the questions we hear the most about FFA. To investigate further, exploring the FFA website is the best place to go, but staff members at La Crosse area archives can always answer any questions you may have about using FFAs for your NHD research. Never hesitate to contact the archives.

An archival collection, also sometimes referred to as a manuscript collection, records, or even simply as collection, is a set of materials that were brought to an archival repository by the same entity (e.g., person, business, department, etc.). A collection could have one creator, or many (e.g., a family, office or business, etc.). Archivists process collections so users and researchers can access the primary sources that are organized within the collection more easily.

To understand more archival terminology, including the italicized words in the above paragraph, go to the Glossary page under Research Guidance.

A finding aid is a tool created by archivists to guide researchers through archival collections, which were mindfully organized into folders and boxes by archivists. Often, finding aids are long and can be confusing if you are new to historical research.

Regular finding aids written by archivists can be lengthy and difficult for beginner researchers to understand. To specifically help NHD students, FFAs identify and explain parts of larger archival collections most relevant to students conducting research projects. The FFA website organizes these simplified guides by topics to lead NHD students to primary sources of highest interest to them.

No! Communities from La Crosse, Grant, Monroe, and Vernon Counties are all represented in FFAs. Collections are primarily from the La Crosse Public Library Archives, UWL Murphy Library Special Collections and ARC, the Monroe County History Room and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Southwest Wisconsin Room.

The FFA project is continually growing, so check in periodically to discover newly added FFAs.

The best way to discover this is by browsing the FFA website. Users can browse FFAs related to the following subjects:

  • Children
  • Depression
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Immigration
  • Labor
  • LGBTQ+
  • Politics
  • Poverty
  • Protests
  • Race
  • Sports
  • War
  • Women

The FFA website has a complete index listing of all the archival collections that were covered by published FFAs as well as the broad NHD topics that go along with the collections. You can find this index in this document here.

The FFA team supplies you with a worksheet to guide you in note taking! You can download and print it off here.

Other resources, as well as both of the sheets listed above, can be found on the FFA website's Resources page.