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*Archival Research: Identifying Special Collections/Archives for Your Research

Archival Materials in Footnotes/References

If a scholar has used archival resources as primary sources, they will be cited in the footnotes/references.

Older scholarship may only direct you to the name of the collection and its location, i.e. "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University."

More recent scholarship is more likely to include more specific information, such as series number and box and folder numbers.

Many finding aids now include detailed information about how to cite that collection.

Archives Abroad: Some Useful Sites

Remember: you can always use Google to locate the website for a country's national library or national archives.

Got A Question? Contact The Archivist!

If you have questions about finding aids or an archives' holdings, look for contact information and contact the archives directly. Archivists know their collections well and can help you learn more about a collection, whether you can order reproductions of materials, etc.

If you are planning to visit an archives, it's best to contact the archives directly before you visit, to learn about registration procedures and other rules the archives may have for using their resources.



Morna Gerrard, Women and Gender Collections Archivist, Special Collections & Archives

Note: If you have questions about specific archival collections held at another repository (that is, not at GSU), you should contact that repository directly.

Searching with Google

To search Google for archival collections or finding aids, try these searches:

[name or organization] “finding aid”
[name or organization] “digital collection”
[name or organization] “collection”

Adding “” to a Google search will limit your search to educational organizations, including Special Collections/Archives at colleges or universities.

ArchiveGrid and WorldCat will provide more focused searching.

See below for information on searching these two sites.


WorldCat includes information on archival holdings.

For best results, search by name or other proper noun.

Use Advanced Search and select "Archival Material" from the "Format" dropdown menu.

Though WorldCat includes information from many libraries worldwide, not all libraries worldwide are members of OCLC/WorldCat.

To find out if a country's national library or libraries is an OCLC member, select "More search options" on this page, select the country's name in the appropriate search box, and click "Search." If the country is not included in the dropdown menu, its national libraries do NOT have their catalogs included in WorldCat. You can always use Google to locate the website for a country's national library or national archives.

(Example: national library iran)

To check to see if a particular library or repository is a member of WorldCat, use this search page. You can search by library name or part of a name, zip/postal codestate or province.


ArchiveGrid is a freely available site from OCLC which includes nearly two million archival material descriptions from repositories in the US, including records from WorldCat and finding aids harvested from the web.

  • Browsable by topic, US state, country
  • Using "Result Overview," results can be sorted by a number of options, including person, group, place, archive, archive location, and topics(Library of Congress Subject Headings)
  • Each result also includes contact information for repository holding that collection.