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Graduate-Level Historical Research

A guide for History MA and PhD students.

Research in Archives and Special Collections

Archives, rare book libraries, and special collections departments contain a mix of primary and secondary sources.  Archives often have different hours and procedures from other library departments. If possible, call or email an archivist before you visit as some materials may be stored off-site. Also, most archives have unprocessed collections (without finding aids), so be sure to consult an archivist about your research topic. Remember that not all resources are online!

Because archival collections contain unique materials, they do not circulate like other library holdings. Archives usually have special procedures for using, copying, and citing archival materials.

Types of archival records include: personal papers, family papers, organizational records, oral histories, images, films, newspapers, city directories, maps, and governmental records.

Guides to archival collections are called finding aids.

Here are some resources about doing research in archives and special collections departments:

Doing Archival Research

LibGuide for Primary Source Research

Society of American Archivists: Using Archives - A Guide to Effective Research

Society of American Archivists: Copyright and Unpublished Materials

To learn about the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department at the UTEP Library, click here. Other local archives include the Border Heritage Center of the El Paso Public Library, the El Paso County Historical Society, and the Centennial Museum.

Some resources for local and regional history include:

Special Collections image collections

UTEP Institute of Oral History collection

Finding aids

Book collections in Special Collections

Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Portal to Texas History

UTEP History

Special Collections on ScholarWorks


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