Archives 101

Studies have demonstrated that patrons of archives have greater success when they have a basic knowledge and understanding of archival management – what are archives and what exactly do archivists do? Here you will learn about how archivists acquire, protect, and prepare historical records for research. You’ll also discover how to find historical records and what to expect when you visit an archives. This site is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of archives or the archival profession; rather, we hope it will serve as a relatively quick and easy summary that will help make your research experience fun, exciting, and productive.

You can keep up on what’s happening at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives by visiting and following our web site, the Archives’ blog The Northern Tradition, or the university archivist’s blog The Marchivist: Adventures of an Aging Archival Raconteur and Blatherskite


Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research

Published by the Society of American Archivists (SAA), this guide provides a concise and easy to read overview of the main points to consider before launching an archival research project. SAA  designed the guide for the novice and the expert scholar.

How to Properly Handle Archival Collections while doing Research (58 seconds)

What not to do when Conducting Research in an Archives (5:58)

The Archival Profession

So You Want to Be an Archivist: An Overview of the Archives Profession (The Society of American Archivists)

Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics (The Society of American Archivists)

A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology (The Society of American Archivists)

The Academy of Certified Archivists

The Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA), founded in 1989 at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, is an independent, nonprofit certifying organization of professional archivists. Individual members qualify for certification by meeting a series of defined professional standards and passing an examination.

The Basics of Archival Work

A Day in the Life of an Archivist (3:03)
A very quick overview of what archivists actually do.

Introduction to Processing (1:40)
This short video summarizes how archivists prepare historical manuscript collections for public research.

How do Archivists Preserve Historical Collections? (12:09)
This excellent overview focuses on the preservation to paper records, discussing the threats and solutions to long-term retention of paper.

How do Archivist and Researchers find Historical Collections? (8:45)
An excellent overview of how archivists “describe” collections by creating and using narrative finding aids.