Provide Greater Research Opportunities

Archives—such as letters, reports, accounts, minute books, manuscripts, and photographs of people, businesses, and governments—are valuable historical documents that operate as evidence of past events. They’re also the facts and narratives we use to interpret history and influence our sense of identity and understanding of cultures. While the word “archive” is hard to define, it’s used here to describe a collection of items that form evidence of the activities of a person or institution and have been carefully selected for long-term preservation. 

Records weren’t usually created for the purpose of archival research in a library, which means these documents often provide a less biased account of events than secondary sources. While archives are mainly used by academic research scholars, other professions and areas of study use archives for various forms of research.

  • Using Archives to Understand Today’s Issues

    For those attending colleges and universities, archives are critical to their studies and provide a greater understanding of our world by offering context and diverse perspectives on historical events. Take greater steps to support diversity, equity, and inclusion at your academic institution by including historical archives, like those below. These featured collections aim to educate students, support academic researchers, and give insight to instructors on the topics of racism, civil rights, and social injustice. Primary source collections serve as living artifacts of history that guide students toward a deeper understanding of cultures and allow them to question forms of oppression when reading, analyzing, and studying the works of diverse and global authors.

  • Who Uses Archives?

    Archives are a valuable resource for academic scholars and researchers. They can also be used to provide people with primary source material on any number of topics to further their personal research or gain insight that’s useful for their career.

    • Students and researchers use archives when writing their dissertations, books, or journal articles. Subjects researched can include literature, art, economics, and more.
    • Local historians conduct research to better understand the area in which they live.
    • Artists and designers use archives to inspire their own work and learn about art through the ages.
    • History enthusiasts search through archives to go more in-depth into their hobby. For instance, people who are interested in crime can cross-search historical newspapers, manuscripts, and forensic reports to find information they can’t find anywhere else.
    • Businesses can use archives for marketing purposes.
    • Architects and town planners use archives when planning on how to restore buildings, design new construction, or manage environmental issues.
    •  Journalists use archives to research their stories and obtain newspapers that may provide relevant comparisons or evidence.
    • Social activists use archives to research information on laws, government, court rulings, politics, and cultural movements—often discovering hidden or suppressed histories.
  • Gale + Academic Libraries: Reimagining Research and Instruction

    As a leading provider of digital research and learning resources, Gale, a Cengage company, can help academic institutions nurture student success and inspire learners to make a real difference in the world.