Tools & Techniques for Archival Research

Understand Archival Organization

You must document all of these pieces as you organize your materials. Do not rush through documenting the archival location; an item will essentially be useless to you if you can't remember where it came from.

  • Library or Institution
  • Division
  • Collection Name and Number
  • Box Number
  • Folder Number
  • Item/ Document

Locate the Preferred Citation

Usually the finding aid will have a note on how a collection should be cited. Honor that if possible.

How to Cite

For more information, you can see the OWL page on citing archival sources

Using Zotero to Cite Archival Sources

Zotero can be used to manage your archival sources in addition to your secondary sources. You can create a template item for the collection you are working on, and then duplicate it for each new item. You can use a variety of formats in Zotero for an archival source, such as letter, photograph or manuscript. Manuscript should be your default for archival research.

Most individual items in an archival collection will not have a title. You will have to create your own name for the manuscript document if it doesn't already have one listed in the finding aid.