Because there are so many different types of archival materials, researchers are often confused about how to cite them. There is no universal agreement on how to cite these materials, especially because many repositories have their own preferred citation styles that reflect the organization of specific collections. As with any secondary sources, however, the goal is to allow the reader to identify what is being cited and where it is located, and therefore the following elements should be included:
Note that in the case of the above example, it is not necessary to include the name of the letter's recipient because the collection and series titles make clear that it is part of a collection of letters written to a particular individual (Charles Pratt). If this is not so indicated, or if the series consists of miscellaneous letters with multiple senders and recipients, the name of the recipient as well as that of the writer is required.
In the case of artifacts, it is especially important to include the box numbers, since three-dimensional items are usually stored separately from the rest of the collections to which they belong.
The citation format might require modification to fit particular circumstances. Also, not all items will feature every element. For instance, the Prattler, the Institute’s student newspaper, forms its own unnumbered collection, so it would be cited much like any other newspaper, the necessary citation elements consisting of: article title, publication title, volume number, date, and page. The Citing Archival Resources page from the OWL at Purdue is a helpful resource and offers a citation example based on a modified MLA format, as well as a link to a research guide that provides possible citation formats according to APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.