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Special Collections Citation Guide

How to cite materials found in Augustana College Special Collections.

Unpublished Manuscript Materials

The vast majority of what you will find in our manuscript collections will be unpublished materials, and these are sometimes overlooked in the major style guides, leaving you at a loss as to how to cite them.  Many style guides will simply say, "cite archival materials according to the guidelines provided by the archives or institution."  While the exact details may vary from institution to institution, the general principle is always the same: provide enough information for someone to be able to locate the item again if they wish to examine the item you have referenced, and give credit to the institution that holds the item and makes it available to researchers.

For Augustana College Special Collections, our preferred citation format is as follows:

[Title], [Date], [Folder name or #], [Box #], in [MSS #] [Collection Name], Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

You will often need to create a "Title" for your item.  Your goal is to describe the item succinctly and with enough specificity that it can be distinguished from other items in the same folder, box, or collection.  Three different people could come up with three different "titles" for the same item, but as long as they all achieve the goals stated above, all three are perfectly valid.

Not all items are dated, and not all folders are numbered or labeled with a name.  As with any citation format, you should include or skip elements according to the information that is present in the item you are describing.

Box numbers, collection numbers, and collection names are crucial pieces of information that you must include in order for someone to be able to locate the item you are citing.  We have over 400 collections, and some collections contain hundreds of boxes, so these pieces of identifying information are essential.  If you forgot to record this information while you were doing your research, you may be able to locate the necessary details by looking at the finding aid for the collection your item belongs to.  Our finding aids are all available online via a platform called ArchivesSpace.  

Examples of this citation format applied to various possible scenarios are provided in the box below.

As with all things Special Collections-related, we are happy to help you if you have questions about how to describe something or can't remember where you found the thing you are trying to cite.  Email, call, or visit the reading room to ask for help!

Citation Examples: Unpublished manuscript materials

General Format:

[Title], [Date], [Folder name or #], [Box #], in [MSS #] [Collection Name], Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

 

Example 1:  A dated letter with a known author and recipient found in a manuscript collection

Fulbright, J. William, Letter to Richard A. Johnson, 1 September 1944, Folder 3, Box 2, in MSS 118 Richard A. Johnson papers, Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

 

Example 2:  A document found in a particular folder in a box of a manuscript collection

Immigrant Contract, 7 May 1912, Folder 2, Box 1, in MSS 134 Emil Alfred Swanson papers, Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

 

Example 3:  A document found in a manuscript collection, no folder number

Receipt, 16 August 1960, Box 1 in MSS 226 Augustana Woman's Club records, Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

 

Example 4:  An undated, anonymous letter fragment found in a manuscript collection

Anonymous letter fragment describing missionary life in China, undated, Box 2, MSS 340 Letter, fragments, and signatures, Special Collections, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.