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Introduction to Archival Research

Get started understanding how to find and use archival collections in your school work, professional research, or family research.
Understanding access restrictions Culturally protected records Making FOIA and other requests
Copyright and use Citing archival material  

This guide provides some preliminary information about legal issues like Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Domain. These sources do not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for making your own educated judgments when using copyrighted material.

Culturally protected records

Archives have traditionally been places of power and privilege, where the stories and histories of racial, cultural, and religious minority groups were excluded from the historical record or recorded through colonialist perspectives. Archival materials from and about marginalized cultural groups were often collected without consent or input from the communities they document. 

Increasingly, archives and archivists try to treat records from and about historically excluded cultural groups according to values and interests of people within those communities. Access restrictions may be developed by an archive collaboratively with community members, to protect the privacy, dignity, and cultural integrity of those represented in historical records.

In particular, archival material from and about Native American groups may require distinct access and use policies, according to the rights of tribal groups as sovereign political entities and their own cultural expectations for privacy and information sharing. Consult with the archivists at the repository you wish to access for information about culturally protected records.

See the links below to learn more: 



Rare and Distinctive Collections


Classroom: Norlin N345

Reading Room: Norlin M350B