Citing Materials in Your Work

Footnotes and other references to unique source materials held in repositories such as the Social Welfare History Archives are comparable to those for conventional published sources, i.e., books and articles, in that they require an accurate title or characterization to identify the item. Additionally, though, references to archival materials should indicate the item's location, because it likely can be found only in that one place.

Many primary sources in archives are unpublished and don’t always have an obvious title, author, or publisher to cite. You must collect and keep key pieces of information to cite the sources correctly.

Collecting information needed to cite your sources

Many primary sources in archives are unpublished and don’t always have an obvious title, author, or publisher to cite. You must collect and keep key pieces of information to cite the sources correctly:

  • The name of the archive or special collections library that holds the collection(s) you are using (ask a staff member to provide a suggested citation for the collection)
  • The name of the collection where you found the document
  • The number of the box where you found the document
  • The number or title of the folder where you found the document, if there is one
  • Short description of the type of document (for example, “letter” or “telegram”)
  • Sometimes a document has a heading or title; make a note of this as well (for example, “Annual report of Acme Corporation,” or “Proposal for a research project”)
  • The document creator and/or recipient, when available (for example, “Jane Doe” or “Acme Corporation”)
  • The date, when available

  • Suggestions for Citations

    Although publishers or institutions may prescribe their own style, the following sequence of elements is recommended for archival materials held in the collection:
    • Identifying the document
    • Identifying the document's location
    • Repository name
    • Collection title
    • Location within the collection

    Identifying the Document
    A brief title or characterization, together with the date (if possible) should suffice. Identifying information contained in the text need not to be repeated in the footnote. Examples:

    • Letter: Helen Hall to Bert Beck, January 17, 1963
    • Report: "Playgrounds in New York City: What needs to Be Done?" October 1938
    • Diary: Beatrice Bernhagen daily journal, July 14, 1937
    • Minute Book: American Federation for Sex Hygiene, board of directors minutes, June 28, 1912

    Identifying the Document's Location
    This information typically includes three elements: the name and location of the repository (Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota), the name of the collection within the repository, and the location of the item within the collection. In all but the first citation, our name can be shortened to SWHA.

    Collection Title
    The name of the organization or individual who created the records, followed by the work "records" (for organizations), "papers" (for individuals), or "supplement" (for records or papers received after the original shipment from that donor had been processed, and treated as a separate entity). If in doubt, see the Social Welfare History Archives collection guides or consult staff. Examples:

    • Paul Kellogg papers
    • Survey Associates records
    • National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers, supplement two

    Document Location Within the Collection
    This element is the most variable, depending on the condition of the collection. For collections that have been fully processed, i.e., those with a detailed inventory and numbered containers and folders, use the folder number. For collections under preliminary control, do not use box numbers, as these may change as processing continues. Instead, report the folder title or the series within which the item was found. The size and complexity of the collection will dictate the amount of detail necessary to define the location. If the identification of the document itself provides a clear indication of its location, no additional information need be provided. Consult with the curator as necessary. Examples:

    • folder 938, National Association of Social Workers records
    • box 27, folder 7 (alternatively - folder 27:7), American Social Health Association records br>(Early collections had folders numbered consecutively throughout the collection, and do not require reference to the box number; those processed more recently start the folder numbering sequence within each box.)
    • "Opposition" folder, Abortion Rights Council records
    • Predecessor Organization series, Annual Meetings files, Council on Social Work Education records
    • Membership Committee files, Young Women's Christian Association of Minneapolis records

    Citing Published Materials Found in the Archives

    Pamphlets, published reports, and newspaper clippings should be identified in terms of their location (as done in the example immediately above) if they likely would be difficult to find elsewhere or if their location in that particular context is deemed to be significant. Items found in the SWHA pamphlet collection may be cited as follows:
    • American Association of Social Workers, A Tentative Code of Ethics for Social Workers, 1948, found in Social Welfare History Archives pamphlet collection.

    Citing Microfilm Editions

    Use a format similar to that for original materials, but report the repository home of both the original records and the microfilm edition. Example:
    • List of Volunteers, 1892-1906, Roll 15, University Settlement Society records, State Historical Society of Wisconsin microfilm edition. Copy at Social Welfare History Archives.

    Examples for citing archival documents from Marquette University Department of Special Collections and University Archives