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History 303 - Finding Primary Sources in Archives

Help with archival research for HIST303

Where are Primary Sources at Cal Poly?

Primary sources are physically located in Special Collections and Archives and as well as in our online archive.

Our archives focus on some specific topics and areas:

  • Central Coast history
  • California architects, landscape architects, and the built environment
  • California history 
  • the university's history
  • underground comix, zines, and artists' books


What Is an Archival Collection?

  • Archival collections consist of the records and personal papers of individuals or organizations 
  • Collections include records that document the activities of creator
  • Unpublished correspondence, subject files, photographs, broadsides/posters, reports, manuscripts, and records 
  • Archivists use finding aids to describe archival collections
  • Finding aids consist of three primary parts: biographical history, scope and content, and inventory
  • Archival collections do not circulate