Citations and Copyright

Citing Archival Materials

Archival materials need to be cited in your research, whether you make reference to a source, quote directly from it, paraphrase it, or reproduce an image in your work. The form of your citation is determined both by where it appears in your paper and by the citation format required by your professor or research discipline (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

Regardless of format, archival citations usually include:

1. Title: usually the title of the folder or item being used. In the absence of a title given by the archives, provide a short description.

  • Enrollment report
  • Map of Grand Valley State University
  • Letter from Owen to Tom

2. Collection name: the name of the collection given by the archives to which the item belongs.

  • Joseph P. Olexa WWII memoir and correspondence
  • University promotional materials

3. Collection identifier: the unique reference code given to the collection by the archives. It is the equivalent of a library call number, used to identify and locate a book.

  • GV013-01
  • RHC-93_Olexa_1946-08-28

4. Box/Folder number: the number of the box and folder in which the item is stored.

  • Box 9, Folder 2

5. Repository name and location: the name of the archives or library and its geographic location.

  • Grand Valley State University Special Collections & University Archives, Allendale, MI

Additional information that may be useful, but not available for all collections:

  1. Author/Creator name(s)
  2. Relevant dates
  3. Publication name (particularly for clippings)

Digital object records and Finding Aids found in our online databases may include preferred citation guides. These guides may require reformatting or additional information to meet the requirements of the citation format you are using.


Grand Valley State University Libraries make materials in the Special Collections & University Archives available for research, teaching, and learning. Many of these materials may be protected by copyright. In some cases, that right may be owned by Grand Valley State University; in others, copyright is retained by the original creator of the materials, their descendants, or third parties.

It is the responsibility of the user to determine final copyright status of a work and to obtain appropriate permissions for reproduction, publication, broadcast, or public display of the materials beyond the bounds of fair use.

For more information about copyright, visit the Scholarly Communications Copyright Resources website.

Page last modified July 20, 2021