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Archives & Special Collections

Learn about CSUMB Archives and Special Collecitions

Finding Materials

Search or browse the CSUMB Archives & Special Collections database to find material in our collections. In addition, finding aids for our processed collections and a selection of digitized materials are available on DigitalCommons@CSUMB.

Getting Started

While working with archival collections, it is helpful to understand how the material is organized by archivists. 

Archival collections are organized differently from library collections. Library collections are usually arranged by subject, with all the information on one subject grouped together. Archival collections are arranged according to two basic principles: Provenance and Original Order.

  • Provenance dictates that records with different origins must be kept separate from each other. This means that records from one individual or institution should be kept separate from the records of a second individual or institution, even if their subject matter is the same. 
  • Original Order means that archival records should be maintained in the order established by the creator of the records, not in an order established by the archives.

Both of these concepts ensure that archival records preserve context as well as content, which is vital to fully understanding the materials in any collection. It also means that in archival collections, information on a particular subject may be scattered across many different collections.

In addition, archival records are cataloged at the box or folder level, not the item level. This means that archival catalogs and finding aids will not tell you the content of or even existence of every piece of paper in the collection. They will only give you a general idea of what is in each box or folder. The rest is for the researcher to discover. 

Finding aids typically contain a description and summary of the collection including the scope of its subject matter, relevant people or organizations associated with the material, and dates covered. Finding aids also include a list of the contents that tells users how the collection is structured and where to find particular materials in it. All of this information can help you determine which collections are relevant to your research and narrow in on the boxes or folders you would like to view.

Finding aids for our collections can be found on Digital Commons @ CSUMB. Please note that not all of our collections have been processed, and we are continually creating new finding aids.

For more information on reading and understanding finding aids:

Descriptions of archival collections held in Archives and Special Collections can be accessed by using our ArchivesSpace Database.

When using ArchivesSpace, you can click on "Collections" in the top menu bar to browse a list of our collections. You can also choose to browse by "Subjects" to find collections by topic, browse by "Names" to find information on the people, businesses and organizations associated with the collections, or use the search box. Please note that not all of our archival collections are included in this database.archives space search page