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Using Archives & Manuscripts

Overview of using archives and manuscripts, including tips for research visits, handling materials, and quoting and citing in academic work or publications.

Archival Sources Beyond NYU

The main tools for identifying processed archival collections beyond NYU include WorldCat, ArchiveGrid, and NUCMC, which are described below.  Researchers are encouraged to search all three, even though there will likely be some overlap in search results, to ensure that they have not overlooked relevant collections.

  • WorldCat - Contains records for more than 1 billion items in more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.  Use the advanced search feature to limit results to archival materials.
  • Archive Grid - Database with collection level descriptions of archival holdings and search capability within finding aids contributed by thousands of libraries, museums, and archives.
  • National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) - A gateway for searching OCLC WorldCat (Manuscript materials) provided by the Library of Congress.  Contains nearly 1.5 million catalog records describing archival and manuscript collections and individual manuscripts in public, college and university, and special libraries located throughout North America and around the world.

N.B.  All repositories have collections that have not yet been arranged and described.  Unprocessed collections will not turn up in searches of these databases and may not appear in a library's own catalog.  Contact repositories directly to inquire about the availability of unprocessed archival collections.

International Repositories

Information about international archival repositories and their holdings is available from the following sources:

  • Repositories of Primary Sources - A listing of over 5,000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources.
  • UNESCO Archives’ Portal - An international gateway to information for archivists and archives users.
  • MALVINE – A search tool for discovering manuscripts and letters via integrated networks in Europe.
  • A2A: Access to Archives - Search and browse for information about archives in England and Wales, dating from the eighth century to the present day.
  • UK National Archives Global Search - Catalogue containing 10 million descriptions of documents from central government, courts of law and other UK national bodies.
  • Google
  • GaleNet – Directory of special libraries and information centers.  The directory is available in print and online (subscription database).
  • LibWeb – Currently lists over 7,500 pages from libraries in over 135 countries.
  • WorldCat - Union catalog of 1.2 billion items.  Use the Advanced Search feature to limit to archival collections.