Methods in the Study of Religion: What are Archives?

This guide is designed to assist students in Methods in the Study of Religion (REL W4905) course, taught at Barnard College by Najam Haider

What is in an Archive?

Archives are collections of non-current, but historically important material that are established and made accessible to preserve information on individuals and organizations. These materials provide evidence to show the day-to-day activities of the people and organizations which originally created the collections. Materials considered "archival" could be, but are not limited to, photographs, correspondence, minutes, maps, audio-visual material, and publications.

Further Sources

Archives and Records Management: Bibliographies, Web Links and Professional Organizations

Mark Greene, “Access to Institutional Archives and Manuscript Collections in U.S. Colleges and Universities,”

Society of American Archivists, North America's oldest and largest national archival professional association.

Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research

The United States Archives and Records Administration

What Does an Archive Look Like?





Typically you would see a box like this if it was an unprocessed, or disorganized, collection. These boxes are called either Records Cartons or Paige Boxes.


















More likely you will see something like this, which is called a Manuscript Box.






What might be inside the box?