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Tutorial 4 - People and Organizations Searches

This tutorial will take you through the steps you need to follow to look for people and organizations that are associated with archival descriptions in ARC.

You may find it easier to print this tutorial out and follow the steps on a paper copy. If you prefer, you can open a second browser window using the url and switch between windows to try the steps for yourself.

To start, we are going to search for an organization within ARC, then move on to search for a specific person. You may be interested in archival descriptions related to or created by particular organizations or people, so this can be a useful way to find associated archival descriptions that would be of interest to you.

When using the Organizations and People searches, you are searching authority records rather than archival description records. Authority records are records created by NARA and by other institutions (e.g., Library of Congress) to establish ''preferred' forms of names, topics, locations, and other index terms used to describe the archival materials. Person authority records have been created for prominent people listed in NARA's records such as politicians, government officials, military officers, photographers, artists, and and other notable individuals. Organization authority records have been created for groups including corporate entities, government bodies, meetings, and conferences.

Please note that not all archival descriptions are linked to authority records at this time. You may find additional archival descriptions by searching for the person or organization using the Archival Descriptions Search instead.

In this example, we are going to search for the "U.S. House of Representatives", an organization that played a role in the woman suffrage movement.


  1. First, go to the Archival Descriptions Search screen and click on the Organizations button.

Archival Descriptions Search with Organizations search button highlighted

You will be taken to the Organizations Search screen.

Organizations search


  1. Type in the search phrase U.S. House of Representatives and click on the Search button.

Organizations Search box with search terms U.S. House of Representatives

You will then see the Organization records that match your search terms.

The organization record we are interested in is the one with the name "U.S. House of Representatives. (03/04/1789 - )".

Organizations Results with 100 hits


  1. Click on the name to open the detailed record for this organization.

Organization details for U.S. House of Representatives

In addition to detailed information about this organization, there are also hyperlinks at the top of the record next to Roles that link to associated archival descriptions.

The organization has a number of different roles.

Roles links for the organization

It is a Contributor to one archival description. This means it was responsible for the intellectual, technical, artistic, or financial production of the archival materials (i.e., produced, wrote or edited the archival materials). It is the Creator of 21 series (i.e., it was responsible for the creation, accumulation or maintenance of the archival material when that material was in working use). It is also the Subject in 71 descriptions in ARC (i.e., it is referenced in the archival description).

Clicking on any of these Role links will take you to the summary display for the related archival descriptions.


  1. Click on the Created 21 Series link. You will be taken to the archival description summary display for all 21 series descriptions that are associated with this organization.

Archival Descriptions results showing where U.S. House of Representatives linked as creator

This screen will look familiar from the Basic Search and the Advanced Search, and the descriptions can be viewed and accessed as described in those tutorials.


  1. Let's have a closer look at the description with the title "Bills and Resolutions Originating in the Senate and Considered in the House". Click on the title.

Hit number 5 in results highlighted

This will open the detailed view of that description.

Detailed view of hit number 5

Remember that we chose to look at all the series descriptions that our selected organization had created? The organization is listed in the Creator field.

creator link for U.S. House of Representatives


  1. Click on the name of the creator to return to the organization record we originally selected.

Organization detail record for U.S. House of Representatives



An Organization Description can also contain multiple names. This can happen when an organization has been superceded by another organization or when an organization has undergone a change of name.

For Organizations, all superceded and preceded names used in ARC will be listed on the description records. This enables you to search for all possible related archival description records regardless of alternative names that might be used on the actual archival material.


Searching for people works in the same way. Having found some information out about this organization, we will now check ARC to see if we can discover any details about one of the main figures in the woman suffrage movement, Mary Paxton Keeley.

  1. To search for people, click on the People Search button in the main Archival Descriptions Search screen.

Archival Descriptions search page with People search button highlighted

You will then see the People Search screen.


  1. We're going to search for information about Mary Paxton Keeley, the first female news reporter in Kansas City.

We could type in our search terms as we did for the Organizations Search, but we're going to try and find the person using the browse index by clicking on the first letter of her last name. Click on "K" for "Keeley". This will take you to an alphabetical list of the person authority records in ARC that start with "K".

People browse search results on letter K


  1. Scroll through until you find listing for "Keeley, Mary Paxton". This will be several pages into the results, so use the arrows at the top or bottom of the results screen to navigate quickly to the correct page.

Results page navigation arrows

When you find the correct page, you will see that there are three entries, all relating to Mary Paxton Keeley. They have been marked with a red spot in the illustration below for clarity - note that the red spots will not appear in ARC.

People search results showing 1 preferred and 2 non-preferred names for Mary Paxton Keeley

These listings show the different names that this person was known by. To ensure that this person is correctly identified within ARC, the names are standardized and ARC uses a preferred name - "Keeley, Mary Paxton, 1886 - 1986"", whenever this individual is referred to by any of her known names. Note that the other two variant names - "Keeley, Mary Paxton" and "Keeley, Edmund Burke, Mrs." are not hyperlinked and instruct you to use the preferred hyperlinked term.

One preferred and two non-preferred names for Mary Paxton Keeley


  1. Click on any of the links to open the person description record for Mary Paxton Keeley.

Person description record for Mary Paxon Keeley

As with the Organizations Search, you can see from the hyperlinks next to Roles that Mary Paxton Keeley is associated with a number of archival descriptions. As with the Organizations Search, clicking on these links will take you to the summary display for the related archival descriptions.


  1. Click on the "Subject in 1 description" link to view the related archival descriptions.

Breif display of archival description record which Mary Paxton Keeley is linked to as a subject


  1. Clicking on the title link will open the detailed information for this description. Click on the title, "Oral History Interview with Mary Paxton Keeley".

Details view of archival description which Mary Paxton Keeley is linked to as a subject

Note that Mary Paxton Keeley is not the Creator of this material - she is the subject of it. That means it is about her. In this case, the material has been created by the "National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library". Clicking on this link would take you to the Organization Description of that organization.


  1. Instead, scroll down to the Index Terms section at the bottom of the description, where the Subjects Represented in the Archival Material lists Mary Paxton Keeley. Click on the link for "Keeley, Mary Paxton, 1886-1986".

Index Terms in the archival description record showing a subject of Mary Paxton Keeley

This will return you to the Person record for Mary Paxton Keeley.

Person description record for Mary Paxton Keeley


Remember that you can enter your search terms or browse by the relevant letters of the alphabet for both the Organizations Search and the People Search - both work in exactly the same way.

Many of the search features that were explored in the earlier tutorials apply to the People and Organization searches too. Don't forget to make use of highlighting search terms, scrolling through search results where your search returns more than one matching record, and refining your search. These options all work in exactly the same way in the Organizations Search and the People Search.

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