Archival research is very exciting, but it is also time consuming. We have developed this guide for you to get the most out of your time during a class visit. You are always welcome to visit us during school breaks or on Saturday afternoons (just bring an adult). We will be happy to help you navigate our resources!
Archives and special collections are rare and unique materials that provide documentation about people, organizations, places, and events in the past, and are kept for their historical and cultural value.
Rare books, brochures, maps, and other printed materials
Books, maps, and other historical printed materials may be rare, but they are not unique and can therefore be found in more than one library. In America these materials are cataloged according to a system organized by the Library of Congress.
Archives are materials that are created or received by a person, family, organization, or government institution and are therefore unique. Collections contain many different types of materials that are stored in archival boxes and folders. They are usually organized in the way that reflects how the person or organization worked. Information about the contents of an archival collection is found in a finding aid.
- I can't read the handwriting of the letters or diaries that I want to use. Can you help me read them?
Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives (SC/UA) holds printed, manuscript, and archival collections that are mainly focused on the history of New Jersey. They include the organizational records of Rutgers University, as well as papers of faculty and alumni in the Rutgers University Archives.
It is important to do some background reading about the topic of your research before you visit our reading room. It is also important to know what you want to look at in advance, so that we can request materials that are stored off-site in time. Your teacher needs to send us that information at least five business days prior to your visit (download a form in Word format).
Information to send us in advance:
For printed materials
- author and title of the publication
- call number (What is a call number?)
- sub-location (What is a sub-location?)
For archives and manuscripts
- title of the collection
- call number of the collection
- box number (to be found in the finding aid)
What to bring for your visit
- camera or cell phone to make photos,
- pencil and note paper
- Can I come back to do more research by myself? When are you open?
- Can I borrow your books through interlibrary loan?
Because the materials in SC/UA are rare or unique, and often fragile, we have special rules in place.
Books, brochures, and other printed materials
Use bibliographic references like you would do for secondary sources. You do not need to indicate that they are kept at SC/UA. (When visiting SC/UA, make sure you make a photograph of the title page to have the right information)
Materials in archival collections
Use the following sequence in quoting your source:
- description of the item with date,
- collection name with collection call number,
- box number, folder number (if specified in finding aid),
- Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.