The College Archives & Special Collections (CASPC) staff has adapted the following archival competencies, designed for Columbia College Chicago undergraduate students, based on those outlined recently in professional literature*:

  1. Accurately conceive of primary and secondary sources and distinguish types of repositories.
  2. Formulate a research query, accumulate multiple sources, identify and search databases for quality primary and secondary sources, and evaluate and synthesize information
  3. Interpret a variety of primary sources and critically analyze and write in an informed way about the types of materials used in historical research, such as institutional records, rare books, photographs, maps, manuscripts and personal papers, ephemera, born-digital materials, artifacts, AV materials, and oral history interviews.
  4. Articulate common biases in primary and secondary sources to assess their trustworthiness and describe ways to gain access to multiple perspectives and narratives.
  5. Articulate the ways in which using and handling original primary sources differ from digital primary sources or other types of facsimiles (microfilm, microfiche, etc.)
  6. Describe security and preservation measures in archival repositories and recognize preservation, organization, and processing techniques used on collection materials.
  7. Explain ways in which archival collections grow over time, how materials not available during an initial visit may be made available in the future.
  8. Explain the lack of online access to many archival materials.
  9. Describe how to legally and ethically incorporate unpublished sources into one’s work and explain the differences in copyright for published and unpublished sources.
  10. Communicate effectively about one’s research experience orally, visually, and in writing and produce a work incorporating primary and secondary sources.

 These competencies are designed for use by faculty in consultation with CASPC staff when planning syllabi and class visits to explore archival collections.


* “Archival Literacy Competencies for Undergraduate History Majors”/ Sharon A. Weiner, Sammie Morris, and Lawrence J. Mykytiuk: 78 Spring/Summer 2015: American Archivist.