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Special Collections and Rare Books

This guide is an introduction to Special Collections at Iowa State University.

Using Collections

This part of the guide defines primary resources and lists resources that can help you evaluate the materials you have located in our collections.

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are firsthand accounts, eyewitness evidence, that documents something that occurs.

Types of records often considered primary sources:

  • Artifacts
  • Contemporary news articles
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Film/video of event
  • Government documents
  • Interviews
  • Meeting minutes
  • Memos
  • Personal narratives
  • Photographs
  • Research Data

More Information on Using Primary Sources and Conducting Primary Source Research

Contact us

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Special Collections & University Archives
403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University Library
Ames, IA 50011
515 294-6672

Contact us before you visit!

You will get access to the materials much faster if you contact the archives in advance. Here's why:

  • Off-site/Library Storage Building materials can take up to seven business days to retrieve. Please email to request material and schedule your visit.
  • Related materials: Even if you have something specific you want to see (and know how to request it), we may have suggestions for other materials.
  • Check the holdings: As with most archives, many of our collections don't have detailed descriptions. If you're looking for a specific document or piece of information, contact the archives before making a trip so that you won't be disappointed if the collection doesn't have what you're looking for.
  • Research Help: We understand that using archives can be complicated. We know our collections and are truly happy to help!