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Primary Source Research and Discovery

An introduction to primary source research

Archives 101

Archives 101

An archives is a place where people go to find information. But instead of getting that information from books as you would in a library, research in archives uses firsthand information from letters, reports, notes, memos, photographs, audio and video recordings, and other primary sources. Archivists are responsible for taking care of these materials. They select, collect, organize, preserve, and provide access to the collections within an archives.

Who uses archives?

Archives are used by people researching many different subjects, including history, literature, art, science, and social justice. Archives are used by historians to understand and interpret the past. Authors and filmmakers use archives to become familiar with the people and times about which they are writing. Genealogists rely on archival sources to reconstruct family trees and trace their histories. Archives can even be used as evidence in hearings or for issues of social justice.

How do I see what you have?

Our website has guides to our collections organized by subject and by title, including links to the finding aids for most of our collections. A finding aid is a descriptive guide for an archival collection. Typically it includes information about the origin, history, content, date, and format of the records, as well as the box and folder organization.

Where are the archives?

The CSUDH Gerth Archives and  Special Collections are located on the 5th floor of the CSUDH Library South Building.

When can I come by?

Everyone is welcome at the archives. We are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 p.m. or by appointment. Tours of the archives can also be arranged by special request.