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Special Collections and Archives

Tips and tools for researching primary sources in Special Collections and Archives and online


Welcome! We created this guide for everyone as an intro to Cal Poly's Special Collections and Archives. 

Special Collections and Archives is a unit in the library where you can find archival materials and artists' books. The archives staff and student assistants can help you work with the collections and help you connect with archives and primary sources around the world. We are here to help with whatever archives and primary source questions you have. Everyone is welcome.

In addition to this general introduction guide to the archives, you can also browse our archives guides going in depth on many topics.

Special Collections and Archives Updates

Archives Research: We're open! Learn more on current archives access.

Archives Instruction Sessions: Special Collections and Archives offers  in person, remote synchronous and remote asynchronous instruction. Learn more

Special Collections and Archives Online Resources - Quick Links

Many digitized primary sources and collections from the archives are available online. Here is an overview of our online collections:

Online Archive: Over 40,000 items digitized from the archives, ranging from 1870 to the present, including historic photographs, documents, sound recordings, architectural plans and films.

Online Archive

Student newspapers and campus documents online:

The student newspaper is available from 1916-2011 on Digital Commons:

Student Newspaper

Digital Commons also provides access to a selection of campus documents and publications, including Academic Senate.

Campus Documents

Web archives: Since 2015, Special Collections and Archives has been archiving the websites of the University, Mustang News, KCPR, and organizations that have donated their paper-based collections to the archives. The content of the web archives is searchable, and includes Youtube channels, select official social media accounts, and documents hosted online by the University.

Web Archives

Online Archive of California: Detailed descriptions of primary source collections available at Cal Poly Special Collections and Archives (and other California cultural heritage organizations). Links to Online Archive when there are digitized materials available from the collections,.

Online Archive of California

Video introduction

Archives Student Assistant Keagan (ES '21) made this great video intro to the archives!