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Archival Research

Why Archival Research?

Archival collection at the Toowoomba Local History Library

 What is archival research?

Archival research is research involving primary sources held in an archive, a special collections library, or other repository. Archival sources can be manuscripts, documents, records (including electronic records), objects, sound and audiovisual materials, or other materials.

What is an archive?

An archive is "an organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations."

What is a repository?

A repository is "a place where things can be stored and maintained, [including] any type of organization that holds documents, including business, institutional, and government archives, manuscript collections, libraries, museums, and historical societies, and in any form, including manuscripts, photographs, moving image and sound materials, and their electronic equivalents."

Purpose of this Research Guide

This guide is intended to explain a little about special collections and archives: what they are, how to find them, and how to begin using them. And most importantly, how to take advantage of their unique nature to strengthen your own research.

Special Collections are materials that have significant historical or cultural value and are considered important enough to be preserved. They include rare books, photographs, personal letters, periodicals, media, and artifacts. Our emphasis at Sonoma State University is on the history, people, and culture of the North Bay region of California, but some collections include content on many other subjects. Some materials go as far back as the 17th century.

Although Sonoma State University's Special Collections and the University Archives are carefully protected, they are made available to anyone wishing to incorporate primary sources into research projects or instruction. Our collections offer a rich environment for intellectual discovery and can greatly enhance your research experience. We make it easy for you to explore our collections online or in person. If you'd like to check out our unique materials, make an appointment to come see us.