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Introduction to Special Collections and Archives


This guide offers an introduction to special collections and archives for first-time users of LSU Libraries - Special Collections, located in Hill Memorial Library on LSU's Baton Rouge campus.

Front entrance to Hill Memorial Library with a large tree to the left of the frame.

What are Special Collections and Archives?

Special collections refer to unique materials that provide both primary and secondary sources to people conducting original research. Our collections are “special” due to their scarcity or rarity, historical value, monetary value, or research value

Archives are collections of original records created throughout the lifespan of a person, family, organization, or business. These materials essentially provide evidence of the activities, events, functions, and/or responsibilities of the creator(s).

Archives and special collections differ from libraries in the types of materials collected and the ways in which they are acquired, organized, described, and made publicly accessible. These differences prompt us to create specific policies and procedures to ensure that our collections can continue to be used for decades or even centuries to come.

Types of Materials at LSU Special Collections

LSU Special Collections houses books and published materials, manuscripts and unpublished materials, photographs, maps, official records of LSU, Louisiana newspapers, state documents, and oral histories.

Primary sources are sources created at the time of an event.  Primary sources are usually first-hand accounts of something that has happened.

Secondary sources describe, report, analyze, and/or quote from original primary sources.  Secondary sources are not created at the time of the event; instead, they interpret the event through the use of primary sources.  

Contact LSU Special Collections

a small telephone icon  For informational questions, call the front desk at (225) 578-6544.

a small icon  For research assistance, call the reference desk at (225) 578-6568.

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