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How to Use Special Collections

An introduction to using Special Collections holdings at HSLIC.

What are Special Collections?

Archives, rare book libraries, and special collections departments typically contain a mix of primary and secondary sources that are rare or unique. 

Because archival collections contain unique materials, they do not circulate like other library holdings. 

Types of archival records include: personal papers, family papers, organizational records, oral histories, images, films, newspapers, city directories, maps, and governmental records.

Guides to archival collections are called finding aids. 

Archival collections are organized by provenance (rather than topic) to provide information about their custodial history and to preserve informational context.

Researchers will generally need to view multiple archival collections that pertain to their topic.

Getting Started

Archival research is time-consuming. Be sure to start projects and papers early!

Start your research project by examining reference and secondary sources first. These sources will provide background information and context. Be sure to review their bibliographies and notes.

Review finding aids to relevant collections before visiting the archive. It is helpful to know which boxes you want to view in advance of your visit.

Be sure to carefully document where all images, documents, quotes are from. Archives do not have the time and/or staff to replicate your research and verify sources.

Remember that not all resources are online! It is always helpful to consult with an archivist about your research.

Click on the links below for more information about doing archival research.

Local Archival Repositories

Archival research often requires visits to multiple archives and special collections departments.

Click on the links below for information about other archival repositories in Albuquerque (please note that this list is not comprehensive). 


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Abbie Olivas