Citing Archival Resources

Many items in Special Collections & Archives are not the traditionally published books and periodicals you find in other libraries at Wesleyan. A significant proportion of our archival holdings are unique items - there simply are no others to refer to anywhere else. Some types of unique archival documents are: photographs; individual pieces of correspondence; diaries; multiple drafts and manuscripts of documents which later make their way into print; maps; printed ephemera (programs, schedules, visiting cards, tickets, or brochures); and posters or broadsides. Including an exact citation for items such as these is more difficult to do but also is all the more necessary given their specific subject matter and unique nature.

The form your citation will take is determined by its place in your finished work. Citations tend to progress from either broadest to narrowest form of information or vice versa, depending upon citation style. In general, the following elements need to be present in the citation to assure that the readers of your work will be able to precisely identify what is being cited and locate it in the future:

  • Repository where the item is held. This will always be: Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.
  • Collection or main record group in which the item is found (and collection number if available)
  • Subcollections, series, or subseries in which the item is found (if available)
  • Folder title (or filing unit) in which the item is found (if available)
  • The document itself, including page, section, or date information, where necessary

Examples

Footnote format:

Report of the Committee of Wesleyan Young Alumni Association of New York on Co-Education as Presented to the Trustees of Wesleyan University January 1900, in Trustee Matters 1899-1900 folder, Coeducation Collection 1867-ca. 1910, Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT.

Muster Sheet for Battalion 8, Company II, Platoon 6 (August-October 1943), V-5 Platoons Muster Sheet folder, Navy V-5 and V-12 Training Unit Records 1942-1945, Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT.

Faculty photograph 1870, Faculty Groups (photos) 1863-1875 folder, Vertical Subject Files Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan Univeristy, Middletown CT.

Bibliography or endnote format:

William North Rice Papers. Diary, volume 1, p. 236, entry for October 24, 1862. Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT.

Wesleyan University. Department of English Annual Report 1991-92, in Annual Reports 1991-92 folder number 3 of 6, Series II, Department and Academic Program Annual Reports Collection 1874 - , Collection 1000-15, Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT.

Printed books and periodicals in Special Collections & Archives can for the most part be cited using the standard formats found in writing guides and handbooks like the Chicago Manual of Style and the MLA Handbook. Most of these sources do not contain extensive information for citing unique or archival items. As each special collections library or archives may have its own system for organizing its holdings, the way you cite items in Special Collections & Archives at Wesleyan may be slightly different when you cite original documents at other locations. When in doubt, ask a Special Collections & Archives staff member.

Remember, including more information in your citation is always preferable to including less!