Each archival institution holds a number of separate archival collections. Each archival collection is usually:
Unlike many library resources, archival material is not usually arranged according to subject or material type. Keeping material together according to the source of the collection - what we call Provenance - is a fundamental principle of archival practice, intended to maintain the original historical context in which material was created.
Image credit: Material from Stan Brakhage collection, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries
For example, the image above shows a small sample of material received by the CU Boulder Libraries' Archives from the avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage. All of these materials - including postcards, audio tapes, and published film catalogs - are kept together in the archive in the Stan Brakhage Collection, to maintain the context in which he used them in his life and work.
To search for archival material, you may need to identify what collections are relevant to your research. Which individual people, organizations, government offices, or institutions would have created the primary source evidence you'd like to find? Search for archival collections holding material from these people or organizations.