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SJSU Special Collections & Archives

Historical Research Topics and Collections

Archival Research--Geting Started

Start your research by first searching the Online Archive of California.


Search the OAC  for SJSU Special Collections & Archives content:

Historical Themes & Research Topics

The SJSU archival collections broadly focus on politics, social movements, military history, art, and culture. The core collections document political and social/cultural changes from 1950-present, and include the papers of local, state, and national politicians.

Political Papers:

  • Themes: civil rights, immigration, Bay Area transportation, engineering and computer industries in the Silicon Valley, constitutional rights and federal legislation related to health care, reproductive freedom, women's rights, education,  as well as foreign policy and international diplomacy. 

Social Movements & Organizations:

  • Organizations: YWCA, League of Women Voters, National Organization of Women, San Jose Peace & Justice Center, Women's Heritage/International Museum for Women, Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition and the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Health, the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Center, and ethnic collections such as the Chicano Studies records, Chinese American Women's Club Records, and the records of the Eta Sigma Phi, an African American student alumni organization.

SJSU University Archives collection:

  • Themes: higher education in California, student life, gender relations, changes in the curriculum, as well as social and political changes from 1862 to the present, civil rights, anti-war protests, minority student organizations, departments, and protests (Chicano, African Amerian, Asian, Women, LTBTQ) . The materials documenting the 1960s-1980s are particularly strong, and we have a comprehensive collection of student publications dating back to the 1880s.

Military/War collections:

  • Themes: World War I and II, Japanese Internment, Vietnam War, peace movements, government propaganda, military campaigns, post-war settlements, SJSU student civil rights and anti-war protests during the Vietnam war era.

Rare Books Collection:

  • Published memoirs, diaries, and writings of state and national leaders.

See the  topical subject guides provided on this research guide for more examples of possible research topics.




Research Tips

  • Start your research early
  • Use the OAC, the Library OPAC, Subject Guides, and other electronic sources as a starting point
  • Identify the topic you plan to research
  • Identify the collection and boxes you need to request in the reading room before your visit
  • Be prepared to register as a reader in Special Collections
  • Review the Special Collection website for information on hours, duplication policies and fees, access policies and use of the collections
  • Make contact with Director and other subject librarians for additional assistance


**Note that you cannot bring food and drink into Special Collections


Other Subject Guides

For additional subject assistance see the Special Collection subject guides and the history guides provided by Nyle Monday, History Librarian.

Citing Sources