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Archives at Bentley: Welcome

Learn more about archives and special collections, including how to find historic material at the Bentley Library. Also learn about primary source research and preservation.

Welcome to the Bentley Archives!

Welcome to the Bentley University Archives!

The purpose of an archive is to collect -

"Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator" - SAA

So, the purpose of the Bentley University Archives is to collect material that documents the history of Bentley University!

The collection here consists of documents, photographs, multimedia, and physical objects that tell the story of Bentley by giving information about the school and providing evidence of what takes place here.

For more specific information about what we collect, see the "What's at the Bentley Archives?" tab.

This guide also contains research help related to archival issues like citation and primary source evaluation, and it has pages designed to guide you through an archives visit! Please use the contact information on this page to get in touch about any questions you have as you look through these materials. 


A Note on Archival Organization

If you are a new archives user, it's helpful to know a few facts about how archivists organize material. Libraries tend to use standardized systems like Dewey Decimal or the Library of Congress to organize the books and periodicals that you check out.

Archives, however, are organized into collections based on the principle of original order. This is is also sometimes referred to as "provenance" or "respect des fonds" - meaning respect for the group. We want to preserve the historical context of collections instead of imposing artificial order. Because of this, the records of each repository might look a little different, and require some legwork for you to find material.

In general, this is how an archival collection (also called a fonds, or a Record Group) is organized. 

  • Here at Bentley, you will usually see the term "Record Group" instead of "Fonds." This is the highest collection-level record, which will have a finding aid.

  • Record Groups/Fonds are generally made up of Series, which can each have several Sub-Series.

  • Material from each Series or Sub-Series is organized into files or boxes. This is generally the most detailed level of description available in a finding aid.

  • Items within Files/Boxes are often not indexed individually, you may have to do a little digging!

  • Look at our "How to Read a Finding Aid" tab to see these principles in action, then contact the Archivist if you still have questions about archival organization!







Image from School Library Learning

Subject Guide

Bentley Archives Online