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Rubenstein Library Manuscript Card Catalogs

This guide contains an overview of how to use the historical Rubenstein Library card catalogs, digitized and available for searching through the Internet Archive.

Using the Card Catalogs on the Internet Archive

Portions of the original Rubenstein Library catalog cards have been digitized and uploaded to the Duke Libraries' Internet Archive page: (or click here). Internet Archive allows users to browse the cards by drawer, or to keyword search across all the drawers for particular names, subjects, or places. There are two collections of card catalogs online in the Internet Archive: Main Entry Cards and the Subject File Cards. Click "collection" under Media Type to find them among all the separate drawers ("texts") on the page.

Screenshot of Internet Archive collections page

You can search within either of these card catalogs, or you can search across every drawer from both collections.

Main Entry Card Catalogs

The phrase "main entry" refers to the collection's creator, or to the title of the collection (when assembled in disparate parts or by multiple people). Drawer numbers start at 157. Cards are arranged alphabetically by main entry and include both Informational and Narrative sets of description for different Rubenstein Library manuscript collections.

Subject File Card Catalogs

Subjects cards may record a theme or event occurring across a single collection, or to a subject, name, or place in an item or letter within a collection. Drawer numbers start at 232. Cards are arranged alphabetically by subject, with some subjects having many sub-headings within them (similar to faceting).

Tips for Searching

Internet Archive defaults to sorting by page views. Within either the Main Entry Card Catalog or the Subject Files Card Catalog, click "Title" to sort the drawers alphabetically -- this will mimic virtually the experience of browsing the drawers. Use the search box on the left to type keywords. Make sure you select "Text contents" in order to search across the text in the cards. Due to the handmade nature of the original paper cards, which often have stray marks or annotations, there are many errors in the OCR that may impact search functionality. Searching works best with single terms or short strings of words in quotes (like "Trinity College").

Opening and Navigating within the Drawers

After searching for a term, you will see thumbnails and snippets of text indicating which drawers contain a keyword result. Click the drawer title to open the drawer and read the individual cards.













The cards display like a open book, and any keyword results are highlighted. Click the arrows left or right on the bottom right (highlighted in yellow, above) to turn the pages and flip through the cards in the drawer. You can change your view using this toolbar. If you want to save or download images, there are icons on the left of the screen. There are also download options below for .txt files, .pdfs, or other formats. If you want the cards read aloud, click the headphones icon on the bottom right side of the view.

Directly navigate to your search results by clicking on the text snippets on the left-hand side, or by clicking the results arrows (circled in red, above) at the bottom center of the screen. You can do additional keyword searches inside the drawer using the "Search Inside" button.

If you are trying to search across multiple drawers, you should return to the collection page.