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What are archives?

Archival collections are groups of records created or collected by individuals, families, or organizations that are no longer being used.

The word archives can refer to:

  • the records themselves
  • the facility where the archival collections are stored
  • the organization that manages the archival collections

What materials can be found in archives?

While the bulk of our archival collections here are written documents, archival collections may also include audiovisual recordings, photographs, and objects. 

Here are some examples of what you mind find in an archival collection:

  • correspondence
  • meeting minutes
  • diaries
  • ledgers
  • newsletters
  • written speeches
  • drafts of documents
  • operational materials (staff lists, daily schedules, etc.)
  • travel documentation
  • photographs
  • videos
  • audio recordings
  • oral histories

How archives are organized

Archival collections are organized hierarchically from collection level down to the item level.


  • A group of records that came from one single entity, which could be an individual, a family, or an organization.
  • Example: "The John Concannon Collection"


  • A group of records within a collection based on similar content, format, or subject.
  • Example: "Personal Papers" or "Photographs"


  • A single folder of records.
  • Example: "Correspondence, 1952-1953"


  • A single record.
  • Example: "Photograph of John Concannon seated with friends."