Skip to Main Content

Women's History Research in Archives : Libraries vs. Archives

How to research women's history in archival sources

What's the Difference?

Libraries collect and provide access to published materials in order to keep people informed, promote scholarship and provide entertainment. 

Archives collect and provide access to unpublished materials in order to ensure government accountability and to preserve institutional and cultural memory.

Published materials Unpublished materials
e.g. books, periodicals e.g. records, letters, diaries, posters
Browse & retrieve materials yourself Request materials from staff
Individual items Collections of materials
Items with covers Boxes and folders
Organized by subject and genre Organized  by creator
(facilitates browsing) (keeps materials in context)
Every item has a brief catalog record Descriptions can be none, brief, or in-depth
Multiple copies exist Uniqeu materials
Lost or damaged items can be replaced Materials irreplaceable
Can borrow materials Must view items onsite
Lower security Higher security