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Archives are what are known as primary sources because they provide a first-hand account of an event by someone who witnessed it or experienced it. They are materials that were created by a person but have not been interpreted by others. Archives are unique, unpublished resources that are not available anywhere else. Archives are any material that has been identified as having lasting historical value.
An archive is a collection containing original records, documents, images, drawings, correspondence, or other materials. For a researcher, archives are a treasure house of primary resources. See Archival Collections and Primary Source Databases for additional archival sources.
Some examples of primary sources in our collections are as follows:
Manuscript Materials such as brochures and correspondence
Photographs, scrapbooks, and slides
Working drawings, blueprints, specifications
Using Archival Materials
For information on locating and using archives and special collections, see these research guides.:
How to research in an archive(Univ. of Texas, Austin, Alexander Architectural Archive) An excellent introduction to effective and efficient use of an archive.
Municipal archives can be a fabulous source of primary research material. Many cities, counties, etc., maintain archives of historical municipal records, ranging from meeting and office records to maps, vital records, photographs, plans, parks and recreation planning, and much more. These archives are managed in diverse ways: as a separate department, as a function within an individual department, as part of the public library, etc. Search H-Urban discussion logs for "municipal archives" for a sampling of the type and quality of municipal archives available.
Access to detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California including the 10 UC campuses.
A searchable and browseable resource that brings together historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies, and archives. Contains over 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters, and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections. Images are organized into thematic and institutional collections, such as historical topics, nature, places, and technology.
Combined catalog of books, journals, maps, music scores, sound recordings, films, and other items in thousands of libraries worldwide.
Combined catalog of over 1.5 billion books, journals, maps, music scores, sound recordings, films, and other items in thousands of libraries worldwide. Users can leave comments about an item, automatically format citations, or export information to EndNote or RefWorks.
There are many repositories for records documenting the built environment. The list below includes major archives across the United States that focus primarily on the collection and preservation of design records including architectural, engineering, landscape architecture, and construction records.
A noncirculating special research collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, plans, and other materials, the Bancroft Library also houses the University Archives. Most holdings are listed in the library catalogs.
The California Historical Society, founded in 1871, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make California's richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives. The CHS Collection comprises a diverse body of materials documenting the history of California.
Provides primary source material for scholarly research, teaching support and preservation on the work of nearly 100 of the San Francisco Bay Region's historically significant architects, landscape architects and firms.