Skip to Main Content

Navigating NYU Archives

This guide will help you orient yourself with the tools, organization, and access policies of New York University Archives.

Minimally Described Materials

What does minimally described collection mean?

Minimally described collections are collections that have the least amount of description required by archival standards. This usually means that the collection has a title, call number, and brief summary of the records that are in the collection. Some collections may have finding aids, but other collections may not; it depends on the size of the collection and the type of material. If a collection does not have a finding aid but is minimally described, it is usually considered unprocessed. 

Can I still access a minimally described collection?

It depends. Some collections have minimal description and are mostly published materials, such as faculty directories. We will usually provide access to these materials since there are unlikely to be privacy concerns or restrictions. On the other hand, many administrative records have minimal description or may only have box level description. For collections without finding aids (in other words, are unprocessed), we cannot provide access. For collections with finding aids that are minimally described (in other words, may have a box list, but no folder list), University Archives staff will need several weeks to review materials to confirm that there is not any information protected by privacy laws or donor restrictions. Please be in touch with University Archives Staff with additional questions or concerns.