Guidance for Citing Archival Materials

One of the primary reasons for citing the sources of any research project is to ensure that a future reader or researcher may, if they choose, review the original source of the information and evaluate it for themselves.

To do this, a citation needs to adequately answer these two simple questions about the source: "What is it?" and "Where is it?"

What is it?

This portion of the citation describes the nature of the source item. It should include as many of the following elements as are relevant:

Where is it?

This portion of the citation refers to the location where the archival materials can be accessed. It should include as many of the following elements as are relevant:

Information about how to cite the particular collection and the archival repository is often found in the collection's finding aid. At Special Collections & Archives, this information can be found in the Preferred Citation portion of the finding aid. However, it is still necessary to include in your citation additional details specific the particular item being cited and its whereabouts within the collection.

To determine whether you have included adequate citation information, ask yourself this question: Have I provided sufficient information to enable another researcher, archivist, or myself to locate that item again with relative ease? When in doubt, ask the archivist for assistance in identifying what information elements should be included in the citation, as well as accurately identifying that information.

Citation Formatting

If your professor or field expects you to use a particular citation style guide (e.g., Chicago, MLA, etc.), consult that guide directly for guidance in formatting the citation elements. In addition, University Libraries staff has created a Citing Your Sources research guide that provides detailed information on the various citation styles.