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Political Activism and Social Movements in the Notre Dame Archives


Collection A group of documents organically created by a person, family, organization, or business through everyday functions.

Finding Aid  A tool, also called a Collection Guide, that is used to describe the organization and contents of an archival collection.

Repository A place where records are stored and maintained.

Document Box  An acid-free container, sometimes called a Hollinger Box, used to to safely store the items of an archival collection.

Linear Feet  An archival unit of measurement that indicates the amount of shelf space that is necessary for storage. 1 Carton Box or 2 Document Boxes is equal to 1 Linear Foot.

Born Digital  Any primary source document that was originally produced in a digital form, such as a computer file or website.

Locating Materials

When looking for archival collections that best suit your research interests, the best place to start is the Notre Dame Archives website

Browse the online inventory using a keyword search. It may prove helpful to brainstorm keywords that relate to your topic first, before beginning your search. 

The search results will pull from the descriptions of all available finding aids. Select a three-letter collection code to open to an individual finding aid.

To generate more precise results, try an advanced search.


Search results can be narrowed down by type of media, such as audiovisual materials or photographs.

Search our digital collections to browse chosen documents from our archival collections that have been scanned and made available to view online.

Requesting Materials

Example of complete call slip

Once collections of interests have been determined, it's time to request these items to view in the reading room. To have a box, folder or item retrieved by an archivist, researchers must fill out and submit a Call Slip, which can be found in the reading room. It's important to provide as much detail as possible to help the archivist identify the materials you've requested.

If you find a document you would like to have photocopied, a Request for Photocopies slip must be filled out and placed in front of the item. Notify an archivist of your request. Do not remove the item from its original location. A copy of both slips will be provided to the researcher. These documents will come in handy later when writing a citation and can save you a return trip to the archives.


The Notre Dame Archives house many collections that we do not hold the rights to. Researchers should determine who holds the copyright for any materials found in the Archives and consider how this may impact the ability to publish or cite from them.

Access & Use

Legislation in place to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of personal information can limit public access to materials. Donors may also set restrictions on what materials can be made available and when.


Some collections are located in offsite storage and can take at least 1 business day or more to retrieve. It is recommended that researchers contact the Archives prior to their visit to confirm how soon a collection will be available for use.


If researchers wish to request photocopies of the materials they have viewed in the Archives, a 25 cent per page fee is charged. See Services, Fees, and Forms for additional information on duplication.

Handling Materials

How to Maintain Original Order

  • Use one folder from one box at a time
  • Mark the location of the folder in use with an out card
  • Check the label of the folder to identify a box or folder number
  • Try not to rely on memory
  • Keep materials flat on the table

The Principle of Original Order

Archivist believe that it is important to keep documents in the order in which they were received by the donor. By maintaining original order, researchers can follow a creator's path of thinking and gain a better understanding of how documents were used. When items are moved out of order, the context of an item and its meaning can be lost.

For Example: A letter is sent with an enclosed illustration. The letter identifies the illustration as a sketch of the historic opera house in town. If the illustration were to be moved to the back of the folder or in another folder, it may prove difficult for a subsequent researcher to link the two items as related documents.

Changing the order of how archival collections are arranged can also make it difficult for subsequent researchers to find what they are looking for. The location of folders and items in the collection will no longer match the location listed in the finding aid. This can be very frustrating!