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Citation and Writing Guides: Citing Archival Sources

archival sources

Citing archival sources properly is important, because the materials found in an archive or special collections repository are often unique and so cannot be referred to elsewhere. Persons trying to locate your sources at a later date will need to know exactly where and how to retrieve them. The particular form of your citation will depend upon the citation style you adhere to (e.g. The Chicago Manual of Style, Modern Language Association, etc.). The basic elements that should appear in your citation are:

  • The document itself: Include the creator, page, section, and date information where necessary.

Ex: Knights d'Orleans records.

  • Collection Name and Number: Include the title and the collection or catalog number.

Ex: Manuscripts Collection 986.

  • Repository: Where is the item held?

Ex: Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118.

 

Knights d'Orleans records, Manuscripts Collection 986, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118

When you are at the archives, it is a good idea to note down information from the finding aid or guide to the collection and from labels on the folder and box - even if not all the information is required in the citation itself. Take note of the box and folder number for the item but do not use the information in your citation as collections are often reboxed, refoldered, and renumbered. Citing archival sources can be tricky. Never hesitate to ask the archivist, curator, librarian, or your professor for assistance. They are there to help you!

(adapted from George Washington University Gelman Library Libguides)

Citing Sources

Citing sources properly is an essential component of sound research practice.  The following resources can facilitate the process: