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Western History Collections: FAQ

Why can't I browse the stacks? I already have the call number...   
Books at the WHC are shelved in many different places within the reading room, depending on which collection they belong to such as the Norman Brillhart Collection. Books on similar subjects with similar call numbers may be shelved in a dozen different locations. The only exception will be books shelved in the reference area of our reading room. This area is open to the public and everyone is welcome to pull these books from the shelves as needed.   

Can I bring my own scanner or camera to make my own copies?   
See the "Use of Personal Copying and Recording Equipment" section of our General Policies.   

I saw an historic photograph of OU on campus that I like. Can I get a copy of it?   
Yes! If the photograph came from the Western History Collections you can purchase a print or digital copy of it. Please provide us with a description of the photograph and which building you saw it in, and we can process your order. See Reproduction Fees for Photographs for details.   

What are manuscripts and archives?   
Manuscripts and archives are actually two different things. Manuscripts are unpublished materials like letters and diaries, either handwritten or typed. Archives are the official records of a company, organization, or other institution.   

What is a finding aid?   
A finding aid is a list of materials in a manuscript or photograph collection. When you want to view a collection you may ask for the finding aid first, then based on what you see in the finding aid you may ask for a specific box from that collection. The box will be brought to you in the reading room. Many of our collection finding aids are available online. 

What are primary and secondary sources?   
Primary sources are materials that were created during the time of the event being studied or by a person who experienced it firsthand. Examples include diaries, letters, photographs, field notes, autobiographies, and official records, among many others.   
Secondary sources are materials that interpret the event being studied, often written by someone who did not experience it firsthand. Examples include textbooks, reference books, and scholarly articles.   

How do I cite materials from the WHC?   
Manuscript collections should be cited in the format shown in this example: Melven Cornish Collection, Box 5, Folder 2. Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Norman, Oklahoma.   
Photograph collections should be cited in the format shown in this example: Raymond A. Tolbert Collection #322. Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Norman, Oklahoma.   

Can I work on genealogy at WHC?   
Yes, you are welcome to use the Western History Collections for your research, genealogical or otherwise. The WHC was not designed for genealogical research so we do not maintain most of the standard genealogical resources, but we do have some county history books and family manuscript collections that are useful for this type of research.   

Do you have the Dawes Rolls for Native American tribal enrollment?   
No. The Western History Collections used to have the Dawes Rolls indexes and microfilm, but those materials are now accessed at Bizzell Memorial Library, on the 4th floor. Microfilm and fiche should be requested in advance of your visit, because many microform titles are kept in remote storage, with the exception of a few commonly requested titles that are kept with the microform reader/printers in Bizzell. We often refer researchers to the Oklahoma Historical Society's Dawes Rolls Index.   

Do you have the Sanborn Maps?   
The Sanborn Maps are available online, in color, through the Library of Congress. Although this is a work in progress, newly digitized maps are added frequently. OU students, faculty, and staff, and visitors on campus who obtain a guest pass for using Bizzell Memorial Library's computers can also view the Oklahoma Sanborn Maps in black and white on ProQuest. For more information on guest passes see Library Services for Visitors. The Sanborn Maps of Oklahoma are also available on microfilm via Bizzell Memorial Library. Microfilm should be requested in advance of your visit, because many microfilm titles are kept in remote storage. The WHC does have some hard copy Sanborn Maps for selected cities in Oklahoma, but it is not a complete set. These maps cannot be used for making copies.