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Research Help

Research with Archives

Archives house original documents and materials and contain primary sources to help you understand more about a historical period and its context.


Archival materials include documents, diaries, letters, photographs, scrapbooks and other materials created during, or shortly after, the events they discuss. Archivists organize these materials and create a finding aid to help researchers identify and locate materials relevant to their project. Some finding aids detail each item in a collection, but most provide only a general description of what the collection holds.

For definitions of archival terms, see A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology.

Archives at UNE

We are home to several archival collections here at UNE.

Search UNE Archives

Archives are located in our Portland Campus and Biddeford Campus Libraries. Visit during open hours or by appointment.

Books & Periodicals

To find books & periodicals in our archival collections, search library resources and use the library location limiter on the left to select the collection name. Search for terms such as: archives, correspondence, description and travel, diaries, early works, or personal narratives.

Digitized Material

Some of our collections have been digitized and can be found online in UNE’s Institutional Repository DUNE:DigitalUNE. Many of our databases include primary source materials.

You can find a wide array of digitized material on nearly every subject at repositories across the country. Some reputable sources for historical material include:

Visiting Archives

If the material you are interested in has not been digitized, you may need to visit the archives. Contact the archivist of the collection you would like to visit so that you can be sure that the material you want to see is available. Most welcome all levels of research questions, and visitors from casual users to post-doctoral scholars.

If you are unable to visit the archives contact the archivist to discuss the possibility of having material digitized.


Researchers use archival materials to understand the past and craft narratives to contextualize historical events, movements and ideas. Look at a primary source and ask:

  • What is it? Who created it?
  • When and where was it created?
  • How was it made? What evidence is contained in the object?
  • Why might this have been created? Who was the intended audience?
  • What else do you need to know to understand it?
  • What sources might help to contextualize this object?
  • How does this object support my research?

Citing Primary Sources

Use the citation style required for your research purpose. 

To cite items from our collections, the general format is:
[Item], [Collection Name], [Collection], University of New England, [Campus Location], Maine.

Example: Letter to Gilbert Tracy (1902), Elizabeth Akers Allen papers, Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine. 


If you have questions on this, or another, topic, contact a librarian for help!

For information about UNE’s archival collections see the collection website.