Archives & Archival Research

an introduction for students and emerging researchers at UC Santa Cruz

New to using archives as part of your research?

Interested in learning what archives are and what archivists do?

Want to know how to plan a special collections research trip?

If you answered yes (or even maybe) to any of these questions, this guide is for you. We built it to help emerging researchers like you to:

  • learn what archives are and what archivists do

  • start using tools to identify relevant archival collections for your research projects

  • find out about collections here at UC Santa Cruz's Special Collections & Archives that you can visit and explore

  • feel comfortable, or at least a little less uncertain, as you enter the world of archives

All archives-curious visitors are welcome to visit Special Collections & Archives. Staff here can be a good resource for any questions related to primary source research, so don't be afraid to reach out.

Alissa Goldring's photography archive, spanning 1955-1970, documents this American freelance photographer's work while living in Mexico. Shown above is a contact sheet of photographs of young eclipse watchers in Mexico in 1970. (Alissa Goldring Photographs, MS.238)

Some additional information for instructors and faculty:

  • this site is designed so you can assign parts or all of it as reading to introduce emerging researchers to archival research

  • "Question & Explore" segments throughout provide brief assignments and exercises you may adapt and use for further learning/discussion

  • we will be happy to collaborate on customized library instruction sessions that expand on this site's content

  • we welcome feedback on the site - we are curious to know what works, what doesn't, and how we can improve it

Poet and pacifist Kenneth Patchen applied hand colored decorations to a letter to fellow writer John Ciardi in 1960. Patchen often intermixed visual art and text in his work. In the letter he discusses his work, travel hopes, and his disability. (Kenneth Patchen papers, MS.160)