At the SOVA homepage, enter your search term(s) into the search box (punctuation, case, and word order are ignored) and click on or press the Enter key.
A list of related collections will appear. The menu on the left side of the screen allows you to fine tune your search. Select the appropriate facet(s) you want to limit your search by:
In the center of the screen, you can see how many search results there are and navigate through pages quickly. Using the dropdown menu on the right side of the screen, you can also sort your results by either Relevancy or Title.
There are also tabs that display your results grouped in three ways:
The number of hits your query received is recorded in parentheses.
You can always do another search by selecting the SEARCH AGAIN button or typing in your query in the “Search SOVA” box.
Once you have selected a collection to view, click on the title to view more information about it.
At the top of the page you will see options to move between Search Results, view Collection Overviews or Contents, and view or download copies of the finding aid:
On the left are three options:
On the right side, there are two display options:
A record overview provides brief information about the collection as a whole. The overview will often include administrative, biographical, and summary information.
Record overviews also include a section of Keywords. You can click on Keyword entries to find other related content from other collections and Smithsonian archival repositories.
For each Keyword, you can also click to search our Smithsonian-wide Collections Search, which includes museum objects and other material. Links are also provided to external sites like OCLC’s ArchiveGrid, to help you find content at other institutions, beyond the Smithsonian.
On the left side, a table of contents allows you to navigate to various parts of the finding aid quickly.
Browse through a collection’s contents by clicking on the series, file or item Titles.
Many archival collections include digital content.
Collections with one or more digital assets will have a large blue ‘Digital Content’ icon in the title:
The blue box icon indicates that the collection contains digital assets that can be viewed online. Clicking on this icon will take you to the first digital asset in this collection.
Individual folders or items that have been digitized will also be marked with the same blue box icon under the Contents tab. You can view these digitized materials by clicking the folder or item title.