Citations and Copyright

Citing Archival Materials

Like published materials, archival sources used in research must be cited, whether you are simply making a reference to the source, quoting directly from it, paraphrasing it, or reproducing some portion of it in your work. The form the citation takes will depend on both where it appears in your work and the citation format required by your professor or discipline. Regardless of which format is used, citations of archival materials typically include the following elements: 

  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 of the object.
  2. Collection name: the name of the collection to which the object belongs. 
  3. Collection number: 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.
  4. Box number: the number of the box in which the archival object is stored.
  5. Repository name and location: the name of the archives or library and its geographic location.

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.