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SJSU Special Collections & Archives

Historical Research Topics and Collections

Citing Archival Resources

The goal of any citation is to identify where the researcher found the information that is being cited. Archival resources often consist of unpublished material, which means the citations will take a different form than citations for journal articles or books. The goal, however, remains the same: To identify where you found the information.

Usually the information you need for a citation is in the finding aid. Start with the field called "Preferred Citation":

 

A screenshot of the part of the finding aid that shows the preferred citation.

 

The citation for an archival resource should generally include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Name of Creator
  • Name of Folder
  • Name of Collection
  • Collection Number
  • Box Number
  • Folder Number
  • Name of Repository/Archive/Institution
  • Location of Repository/Archive/Institution

The order of the information will depend on the citation style you are using.

Below you will find three examples of how to cite archival resources. In the these examples, the name of the creator of the documents is clear. If you do not have the name of the creator, simply omit it from the citation:

APA 7th Edition

Format: Last Name, First Initial. Name of Folder (Name of Collection, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number). Name of Repository.

Example: Bonparthe, E. Ellen Bonparthe’s Correspondence 1976-1978 (San José State University Women’s Studies Program Records, MSS.2005.08, Box 2, Folder 76-77). San José State University Library, Special Collections & Archives.

Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition

Format: Last Name, First Name. "Name of Folder." Location of Repository, Name of Collection, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number, Name of Repository.

Example: Bonparthe, Ellen. “Ellen Bonparthe’s Correspondence 1976-1978.” San José, California, San José State University Women’s Studies Program Records, MSS.2005.08, Box 2, Folder 76-77. San José State University Library, Special Collections & Archives.

MLA 8th Edition

Format: Last Name, First Name. Name of Folder. Name of Repository, Name of Collection, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number.

Example: Bonparthe, Ellen. Ellen Bonparthe’s Correspondence 1976-1978. San José State University Library, Special Collections & Archives, San José State University Women’s Studies Program Records, MSS.2005.08, Box 2, Folder 76-77.