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Citations for Archival Materials

This guide will detail how to cite archival material located in the CSUDH Archives for MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles.

About MLA Citation for Archival Material

For more details on standards and procedures please consult the MLA Handbook or MLA Style Center. You can also consult pages on the MLA Style Center regarding citing material located in a digital archive, and citing material located in a physical archive.

In-Text Citations

Known Author

Include the author’s last name in parentheses after the quote or paraphrase (Weatherwax)

Unknown Author

Include the title or description of the work being cited in quotation marks in parentheses after the quote or paraphrase (“Painting of San Diego Presidio ruins”)

Works Cited

Basic Format

Author Last Name, First Name Middle Name or Initial. Title or description of material. Day month year. Collection Name. Collection identifier, Box number, Folder number. Name of repository, Location of repository. URL if applicable.

MLA Core Elements

The MLA Style has nine core elements with two optional-element slots.

Unlike published material such as books, or journal articles you may not be able to use a majority of the core elements for citing archival material because that information is unavailable. Most archival material will contain the following elements:

  1. Author(s). [Last Name, First Name Middle Name]
    If the author is unknown skip the author element and start with the title.
  2. Title. If untitled, provide a description of the item without quotations or italics. Capitalize the first word of the description as well as any proper nouns in it.
  3. Date. Add a date to the middle optional-element slot using this format: Day month year. If the date is uncertain, add a question mark at the end of the date. If the date is unknown add “Date unknown” as the date.
  4. Title of container. [Collection title]
  5. Location. [Collection number or identifier, Box number, Folder number. Name of repository, Location of repository]
  6. URL for digital collection material only

I'm citing a...

Terada, Emiko [Amy]. Letter to Laura Thomas. 30 August 1942. James H. Osborne Nisei collection. SPC.2017.001, Box 1, Folder 3. Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA. http://digitalcollections.archives.csudh.edu/digital/collection/p16855coll4/id/9951/rec/1.

Example 1:

Photograph of tradeswomen at a Century Freeway construction site. Date unknown. Vivian Price collection. SPC.2008.004. Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA. https://cdm16855.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/tradeswomen/id/408/rec/6.

Example 2:

Ninomiya Photography Studio. Photograph of [Yasuko Nishida]. 1950. Ninomiya Studio Collection. Nino_50-156_01. Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA. https://cdm16855.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/ collection/p16855coll4/id/14111/rec/40.

Some examples of text documents can include: notes, typescripts, manuscripts, clippings, and diaries.

Weatherwax, John M. Typescript of short story Red Shoes. Date unknown. John M. Weatherwax collection. SPC.2015.005, Box 2, Folder 5. Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA.

Some examples of graphic material can include: cartoons, comics, prints, drawings, and broadsides.

Painting of San Diego Presidio ruins. 1874. Rancho San Pedro collection. SPC.1970.002, Box 244, Folder 7. Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA. http://digitalcollections.archives.csudh.edu/digital/ collection/p16855coll3/id/1312/rec/3.

Some examples of ephemera can include: broadsides, postcards, and posters.

Los Angeles Aviation Week postcard. 1910?. 1910 Los Angeles International Aviation Meet Research collection. SPC.1996.001, Box 9, Item 241. Gerth Archives and Special Collections, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA. https://cdm16855.contentdm.oclc. org/digital/collection/p16855coll2/id/2752/rec/8.

Citing a print or ebook, journal article, news/magazine article, book chapter, or web page? Consult the CSUDH Library MLA Citation Guide