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Archival research basics

In This Guide

Archives and primary sources

Archives are great places to find primary sources for your research. For more information about how to identify primary sources and other places to find them, check out the library's Primary or Secondary? and Primary Sources: Where to Find guides.

How can archives help your research?

Archives can help you with your research in a variety of disciplines. Some reasons to use archival resources in your research include:

  • Providing historical or background information about a more current topic.
  • Using the contents of individual documents as data points to support your hypothesis.
  • Bring your readers closer to the time period you are writing about.
  • Provide evidence about an event.
  • Write about an aspect of history that hasn't been covered in secondary sources.
  • Get more information about people, places, and events in the past.

Beyond academic research

Archives have many applications beyond academic research and can provide people with information related to their personal or professional interests. Some of the many uses for archives include:

  • Family history and genealogy
  • Research for newspaper or magazine articles
  • Legal research
  • Surveying and mapping
  • Environmental research 
  • Inspiration for creative writing
  • Hobbies

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Staff Archives and Special Collections
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage AK 99508