Archives are collections of historical materials (documents, media, etc.). Archives can be held in many different types of repositories including historical societies, museums, libraries, archives, special collections, universities, and other institutions. Never used archives before? Don't worry! Contact a librarian for help and see the Society of American Archivists guide to Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research.
UC Berkeley Comparative Ethnic Studies Collection
The Comparative Ethnic Studies Collection at the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library holds collections related to the history of student organizing and social movements in the Bay Area and beyond including the Third World Liberation Front and the history of Ethnic Studies and African American Studies at UC Berkeley, the papers and research files of faculty, and more. Archives can be accessed on-site by members of campus and the public. Processed and available collections and finding aids are available on the Online Archive of California as well as the Ethnic Studies Library website. Contact the Comparative Ethnic Studies Librarian Sine Hwang Jensen for more information.
The Bancroft Library is one of the treasures of the campus, and one of the world's great libraries for the history of the American West and Mexico.
Some Bancroft materials are available online via Calisphere, which also includes primary sources from many other California libraries and museums. Bancroft also maintains additional digital resources.
Before you go:
Be prepared! Read secondary sources and know something about your topic.
In UC Library Search you can narrow your search to UC Berkeley special collections and archives. As you type your search, options to search different parts of the Library system appear. Narrowing your search this way is also possible in Advanced Search.
It is recommended that you request your materials in advance of your visit and to submit your request at least one week prior to your visit to Bancroft. You must have an Aeon account to request materials. For more information please visit the Aeon guide.
If the UC Library Search record mentions a finding aid (an index) to a manuscript collection, you should use it to help you find what you need in the collection. If the finding aid is online, there will be a link from the catalog record. The finding aids that are not online are near the Registration Desk at the Bancroft Library. You can also search for Bancroft finding aids in the Online Archive of California.
Before you go, plan your visit (and bring a quarter for lockers).
During your visit:
How to Get to the Bancroft Library
The Bancroft is open from 10am to 5pm Monday-Friday (closed on weekends and holidays; shorter hours during the summer and Intersession). Paging ends 30 minutes before closing; this means that if you want to use Bancroft materials until 5pm, you need to arrive and request your materials at the circulation desk before 4:30pm.
The Bancroft Library is on the second floor of Doe, on the east side (the side closest to the Campanile). See a floor plan of Doe Library 2nd floor (pdf).
Archival collections are located across campus and it can be hard to know where to start! Feel free to consult with a subject librarian to help you locate and navigate archives on your topic.
To locate archives around the world, you can use ArchiveGrid (see link below) and use the databases listed below to identify archival collections both physical and online.
AAMLO's archival collection is a unique resource on the history of African Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area. The archives includes over 160 collections documenting prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations. Finding aids are available in the Online Archive of California and digitized items in Calisphere.
AAMLO has a unique non-circulating reference library, a jewel for researchers, students, and anyone interested in African American history. Its collection consists of approximately 12,000 volumes by or about African Americans. Among its many subjects are books on religion, the military, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, the Black Panther Party, Africa in relationship to the African-American experience, genealogy, and California history.
American Indian Studies Center Library, University of California, Los Angeles
The American Indian Studies Center Library is a focused special collection of books, journals, newspapers, and other core materials of importance to the study of American Indian peoples. The collection contains a wide range of subjects, including history, law, social relations, expressive arts, languages and literature.
For over 40 years, the RR/L has been an invaluable resource to generations of students, researchers, and community leaders and activists. It has long been recognized as one of the leading and focused special collections of printed Asian American and Pacific Islander materials in the United States. Its library collection contains over 5,000 books and monographs, along with rare and unique collections of popular and scholarly magazines, 'zines, journals, and ethnic community newspapers from across the nation
California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, University of California, Santa Barbara
The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, also known as CEMA, is a division of the Special Research Collections Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara Library. CEMA is a permanent program that advances scholarship in ethnic studies through its varied collections of primary research materials.
These unique collections document the lives and activities of African Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans in California. The collections represent the cultural, artistic, ethnic, gender, and racial diversity that characterizes the state's population. Its materials are widely used not only by scholars but also in K-12 classrooms and museum exhibitions. Organizations and individuals have committed to establishing their personal papers and archival materials for preservation and to be made accessible for research and study.
Chinese American Historical Society, San Francisco, CA
The Chinese Historical Society of America Museum is the oldest organization in the country dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the social, cultural and political history and contributions of the Chinese in America.
The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is truly a community-based organization whose mission is “…to preserve, document, and present Filipino American history and to support scholarly research and artistic works which reflect that rich past…” The national office and archives is housed in Seattle, operating year-round to lend expertise and support to twenty-seven chapters across the United States.
Freedom Archives, San Francisco, CA
The Immigration History Research Center Archives (IHRCA, or IHRC Archives) is a renowned archives and library for the study of immigration, ethnicity, and race. We select sources documenting a broad range of immigrant and refugee experiences, and strive to connect history to today’s experiences. We work closely with our colleagues in theImmigration History Research Center, and we are part of the Migration and Social Services Collections in Archives & Special Collections (ASC) in the University of Minnesota Libraries.
Our collections' strengths are first and second generation immigrants and displaced persons who came to the USA from central, eastern, and southern Europe; the eastern Mediterranean (formerly called the “Near East” region of the Middle East and North Africa); and late-20th and early 21st century immigrants and refugees. Our collections vary from print to manuscript to born-digital. They include personal papers as well as organizational records of ethnic and immigrant-formed groups, and of social service providers.
Southeast Asian Archive, University of California, Irvine
Since the end of the Vietnam Conflict in 1975 a large number of refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have come to the United States, and especially to California. In order to document their experiences in a new culture, the UC Irvine Libraries established the Southeast Asian Archive in 1987. The Archive's collection is broad and interdisciplinary in documenting the social, cultural, religious, political, and economic life of Americans of Southeast Asian origin. Strengths include materials relating to the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants in the United States, refugee camp and other experiences of the "boat people" and land refugees, and the development and progress of new ethnic communities. There is a special focus on materials pertaining to Southeast Asian Americans in Orange County and California.
Stanford University holds many collections of interest to scholars of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies. Use the link above to search the finding aids available at the Online Archive of California.