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Political Activism and Social Movements in the Notre Dame Archives

About This Guide

This guide will serve as introduction to the Notre Dame Archives and its holdings as they relate to the topic of political activism and social movements. You will find selected archival collections, indexes, and online resources that can provide valuable insight into the evolution and impact of key social movements throughout history. This guide may be particularly beneficial to researchers that seek to understand how and why movements begin and the process of creating social change through the study of primary sources.

About The Notre Dame Archives

The Notre Dame Archives are the official repository responsible for preserving the institutional memory of the University. The Notre Dame Archives actively acquires the administrative records of the University, as well as materials that document the everyday life of the ND community and papers of prominent, noteworthy, or typical people associated with the University, such as faculty, students, alumni, and benefactors. Documents regarding the history of the Catholic Church in the US are also collected by the Notre Dame Archives, including papers of bishops, clergy, missionaries, religious and lay people, and organizational records.

What Are Archives?

Archives are places that collect, preserve, and maintain historical documents of enduring value with the purpose of providing access for research and study.

Archives are not libraries or museums, although all three institutions do share the same goal of making information available and accessible to the public.

Like a museum, archives hold rare and unique items that are not circulated among the public. You must come to the archives if you wish to view their holdings unless they have been made digitally available. Unlike a museum, archives do not actively collect objects or artifacts. Also unlike a museum, archives do not curate exhibits as a primary function.

Like a library, archives primarily collect printed materials and electronic records. Libraries and archives allow visitors to physically handle their materials. Library and archives’ holdings can also be searched through a catalog. Unlike a library, shelves cannot be browsed in the archives. Documents in archives must be requested and viewed in a reading room.

What can you find?

Archives mostly contain primary sources and some unique, rare, or annotated secondary sources.

Primary sources refer to original documents that was were created during the time of an event and provide firsthand, eyewitness accounts. Published materials can be considered as primary sources if they are produced by someone with firsthand experience and reflect the viewpoints and attitudes of the time under study.

Examples of primary sources include diaries/journals, correspondence, newspapers, photographs, scrapbooks, works of art, speeches, and oral histories.

Secondary sources refer to interpretations, analysis, commentary, evaluation, and summarization of primary sources. A secondary source document is created by someone without firsthand experience and reflects how an event is understood in hindsight.

Examples of secondary sources include textbooks, encyclopedias, scholarly books and journal articles, bibliographies, and reviews.