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Guide to Archival Research

A guide on using archival materials held in the Dalhousie University Archives

How to cite archival materials

You must cite archival sources used in your research, whether you simply make reference to a source, quote directly from it, paraphrase it, or reproduce an image in your work. The form of your citation is determined both by where it appears in your paper and by the citation format required by your professor or research discipline (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

Regardless of which format you use, citations of archival materials typically include four key elements:

1. Title: usually the title given by the archives to a file or item; in the absence of a title provide a short description

Nova Scotia Task Force on the Status of Women Reports
Letter from Jane Smith to John Doe


2. Name of fonds or collection: the name given by the archives to the fonds or collection

David and Marilyn Janigan Map Collection
Faculty of Health Professions fonds


3. Reference code: sometimes called an identifier. Similar to call numbers used to locate items within in a library. Dalhousie University Archives' reference codes typically include a collection identifier (e.g., UA-2 or MS-3-245), and numbers that identify the specific box and folder.

UA-22, Box 175, Folder 2
MS-3-46, Box 23, Folder 40


4. Repository and location: the name of the archives or library and its geographic location

Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada