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Citing archival sources in a paper

There is no universal rule to cite archival sources, because each source is unique and the collection it belongs to is unique too. However there are general guidelines.

All citations in footnotes should include:
  • author (if known)
  • title of source or brief description
  • date
  • location information: box number and file/folder  number or name; name of collection and of repository

All citations in a bibliography should include:
  • author (if known)
  • collection name
  • repository
(for bibliographies, information about the specific items consulted is not necessary).

To format the citations, use style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the Turabian Manual.

Note that in these manuals there is no section devoted to primary sources. Find specific types of sources, like manuscript collections (14.232 and following in the Chicago manual), pamphlets (14.249), audiovisual materials (14.274 and following), legislative and executive documents (14.293 and following), etc.

Most archives also provide a model citation for each citation. It may not correspond exactly to the format you need, but it can help understand what information needs to be provided.

Search Tutorials | Find more about primary sources / citing / Chicago / Turabian /


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