Answered By: Sara Janes
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2016     Views: 39

Archival research can be both very difficult and very rewarding. The archive does not always have all of the information you want, and sometimes that information may take some time to find. However, the information in archives is unique, and working with original materials can provide you with additional details not always found in published materials.

You'll want to start by determining whether the Archives has material that is useful to your research. The Archives has dozens of collections and fonds (a fonds is a set of records created by one person or organization) which address a variety of different subjects. You might be interested in an entire fonds, or just one file or item. You can look through existing archival descriptions at or contact the Archives ahead of time for assistance. 

When visiting the Archives, you'll need to follow some basic rules to help keep the documents in good condition. You'll need to not bring any food or drink into the room, handle the documents carefully, and you may be asked to wear gloves. 

Archives staff will get the box or boxes that have the records you would like to look at, and you'll be able to consult the original documents. Some of our documents are hundreds of years old! 

As you read through the documents, you can take notes, transcribe, or take photographs. The Archives staff can also provide you with photocopies and scans in most cases. 

Some of the types of documents you might encounter include: artwork, diaries, ledgers, letters, manuscripts, maps, meeting minutes, newspapers and newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, video recordings. The Archives has records of the University; of local organizations and businesses; of people including researchers, politicians, activists, artists, and entrepreneurs; and of family and community life.