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Digital Archives Materials


This resource discusses conducting research in a variety of archives. It also discusses a number of considerations and best practices for conducting archival research.

This resources was developed in consultation with Purdue University Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections staff. 

Contributors:Michael Maune, Nicholas Marino, and Gina Hurley
Last Edited: 2017-03-24 01:57:55

Many archives have collections that are available for use in a digital format. These may be called e-archives or digital archives. The digital materials may include photographs, documents, and maps, as well as “born-digitally” materials, such as websites and applications. Many archives also make these digital materials available through their websites.

Digital archives can be convenient research tools because they provide researchers with content from a collection without the requiring the researcher to physically be in the archives reading room. When using digital archives in your research, you may use the following tips as a guide:

Some archives also have their own system of assigning unique identifying numbers for digital items. If a digital item has a unique number assigned to it, you should include it as the first element in your citation. This should be followed by the collection’s unique identifier and collection name. Then include the archives name, its institutional affiliation, and location. Finally include digital reference information: the DOI, if available; a general URL for the archives, such as www.universityarchives.edu, and a date accessed. Below is a model along with an example from Purdue University’s Karnes Archives and Special Collections:

Genre-appropriate MLA Citation. Unique item number. Collection unique identifier and collection name. Archive name, Institutional affiliation, Location. DOI. General URL, Date accessed.

Earhart, Amelia. Letter to George Palmer Putnam. 1937. MS. b4f49i1. The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers. Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. ark:/34231/c6kh0k90. earchives.lib.purdue.edu, 28 July 2013.

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