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Michigan State University

WS491 - Fall 2017 - Queer Literary Histories - Kristin Mahoney: What is an archival collection?

Archival box and folders

What is an archival collection?

An archival collection is a set of papers generated by a person or organization over some period of time. It can range from a few folders to hundreds of boxes.

  • An individual's personal papers might include journals, photo albums, letters, and personal documents like a marriage certificate.
  • An individual's professional papers might include drafts of published writing; correspondence with colleagues, speeches given, awards received.
  • The papers of a non-profit organization might include past issues of its newsletter, fundraising letters, meeting summaries for the board of directors and annual reports.

A finding aid is the document describing the contents of an archival collection -- usually not every document, but folder by folder. You can search the full text of Special Collections finding aids. Type AND between each keyword in your search.

Finding aid

Title page of finding aid for Manuscript collection 531

Michigan State University