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History Research Guide

What are Archives?

Katz, Robin M. What Are Archives? - an introduction. Directed by Josh Shayne. YouTube, September 10, 2023. Video, 2:43. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0

Archives are vibrant places where the first-hand materials of human history are actively collected, preserved, managed, and made accessible. The word "archives" can refer to:

  1. collections of historical records
  2. the place where they are stored and used
  3. the organization responsible for them

In under three minutes, learn more about different types of archives, what archivists do, who can use archives, what is missing from them, and why they are valuable. 

What does archival material look like?

Archival material on a book truck

Archival material in a classroom