Introduction to Special Collections and Archives



  • a collection of historical documents or records providing information about  place, an institution, or group of  people
  • the place where historical documents or records are kept



  • to place or store(something) in an archives

Primary Source

Material that contains firsthand accounts of events that was created contemporaneous to those events or later recalled by an eyewitness

In what ways does a traditional archives differ from a library?

  • Primary Sources-unpolished manuscripts and records
  • Material is not loaned
  • Unique and irreplaceable
  • Access and use may be restricted

Organization of Special Collections and Archives

  • Southern Labor Archives
  • University Archives
  • Popular Music and Culture Collection
  • Georgia Government Documentation Project
  • Women  and Gender Collections
  • Rare Book Collection
  • Photographic Collections
  • Social Change Collections

Manuscript Collections Format

  • Traditional paper-based
  • Textiles
  • Artifacts
  • Photographs

Other Collections

  • Periodicals
  • Pamphlets
  • Books
  • A/V (generally digitized on the fly)
  • Digital Collections(NOT EVERYTHING)
  • Preservation/ research value/ cool value
    • Right issues prevents some digitization
    • Cost/time to digitize

Oral Histories

  • Fill in the gaps
  • Document the under-documented
  • Provide personal perspectives
    • Be careful: personal is subjective


What is it?

  • Descriptive Material

Where did it come from?

  • Who made it/who published it?

How can I find more things like it?

  • Search terms/tagging

What can I do with it?

  • Rights information

Metadata in Special Collections

  • Finding aids
  • Catalog records
  • Digitized Material

Th most important thing about metadata?


  • Consider using Dublin Core elements
  • Consider creating/ using a thesaurus


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