• Due to renovations to our vault, access to our collections is limited until further notice. Please contact us for more information.

FAQs: What gets archived?

Last week we received some great questions from some History majors here at UAA about what we do. Gwen spent a lot of time answering them (and then Arlene spent time making Gwen’s answers even longer) and we thought they were such terrific questions, that we’d share them here, one by one.

What types of materials get archived? I know that of course journals, articles, books, and other types of written documents do, but what about types of media and videos? Would it be the same for artifacts too?

Part of a collection in the basement of a donor’s home.

We collect and provide access to unique, unpublished materials related to Alaska. This means that some written documents, like newspapers, magazines, and books, are not part of our archives collecting focus unless they are a product of an organization whose records we have, because there are often many copies that can be found elsewhere.

Our collections generally consist of the unpublished materials created by a particular person, family, or business during the course of their day-to-day activities. These materials can include paper documents, like letters, diaries, business ledgers, and blueprints (there are too many types of documents to name individually), as well as photographs, moving images (film and video), audio, and digital files. Physical artifacts are also not part of our collecting focus as they would be for many museums. If an object comes in with a collection and has an identifiable connection with the other material in the collection, we will often keep it with the collection. For example, we have the papers of a scientist whose collection includes some of her (small, easily stored!) scientific instruments. Different archives vary in their collecting policies and focus, and some take published materials or artifacts.

We actually spend quite a bit of time working with collection donors and looking at collections deciding what we should retain and what we should not. So if you’re curious about whether or not we’d take in something specific, do please get in touch!

Here’s an additional resource on what we collect:

Our collection policy

If you have any questions for us about what we do, comment here or send us an email via the Contact Us link on this page. Maybe your question will show up in one of these FAQs!

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