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Introduction to Primary Source Research

Basic information on doing research using primary sources

Glossary of archival terms

Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map of UC Berkeley Campus,1929Archive - An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations.

Archival Collection - Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization.

Box/Carton - Archival collections are typically stored in boxes. These boxes come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The Bancroft Library uses both box and carton to differentiate size.

Bulk Dates - Most materials in the collection are from this time period.

Collection - A group of materials compiled by a single person or group.

Finding Aid/Collection Guide  - Finding Aids/Collection Guides contain descriptive information about collections. They will either provide an overview of the contents of each box or a list of folder titles. You can use them to identify relevant portions of a collection.

Inclusive Dates - Earliest and latest dates for items in a collection.

Linear Feet - How much shelf space a collection occupies. This information can be helpful in determining how much time you will need to review a collection.

Papers - A variety of formats associated with an individual or family.

Records - A variety of formats associated with a group or organization.

Series - Subgroups of related materials within a collection.

Special Collections - Materials in a variety of formats that are generally characterized by their artifactual or monetary value, physical format, uniqueness or rarity.