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Guide to Archival Research

A guide on conducting archival research. Includes instructions on finding archival material at the Dalhousie University Archives.

University and college archives

  • Collect and preserve institutional memory
  • Some have records management programs
  • Typically have materials in all formats (textual records, photographic material, moving images, etc.)
  • Some have research collections (often called “manuscripts” or “special collections”)
  • Typically focus research collections on specific subject areas

Government archives

  • Municipal, provincial/state, federal records
  • Public mandate
  • Many have research collections (often called “manuscripts” or “special collections”) relevant to their geographic location and scope

Religious archives

  • Traditions and institutions of major faiths, denominations, or individual places of worship
  • Varying degrees of public access
  • Location of records depends on approach to archives management (consolidated or federated)

Community archives and historical societies

  • Preserves history of a region, historical period, theme or subject
  • Often managed by community volunteers or “lone arrangers”

Museum archives

  • Museums and archives share similar goals but collect different types of material and use different standards and best practices
  • Some museums include libraries and/or archives in addition to their collections of artifacts and/or artwork
  • Some archives have museum objects in their archival collections
  • Many museum archives in Nova Scotia

Corporate archives

  • Usually a department of a company that collects and preserves institutional memory
  • Serve the needs of the corporation
  • Varying degrees of public access