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Manuscripts & Archives at the WSU Libraries

The Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) area of the WSU Libraries contains unique, unpublished records created by organizations and individuals in the conduct of their activities. Letters, speeches, minutes, reports, writings, and other types of records document the history and culture of Eastern Washington and the Pacific Northwest.  Other MASC collections include modern British literature, Washington imprints (territorial and state), Western Americana, veterinary medicine, angling, and wildlife and outdoor recreation. Special Collections also houses University Archives, the central and final repository for the historical records of all aspects of the Washington State University campus community.

Using the Search It (WSU Libraries Catalog) to Identify Manuscript Collections

You can use the Advanced search option in Search It (the WSU Libraries' catalog) to help identify manuscript collections by limiting your search to WSU Pullman and the term manuscript*.  You can also search by topic and limit your search to the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections area (MASC) as a location.  To get a better idea of the manuscript and archival material available in the WSU Libraries, go to the MASC homepage (link below) where you can browse by type of collection: manuscripts, university archives, photographs, rare books and special collections, and digital collections. You can also visit MASC in person--its on the Terrell Library Ground Floor, accessible from the atrium.

Some Tips for Using Manuscript Collections

Research using manuscript material is different from more typical library research.  The unique nature of the material dictates that there are stricter security procedures -- users need to register, manuscript materials need to be requested, photocopying is limited, etc.  The following tips can help you when using the manuscript material in MASC:

  • Check MASC hours - hey are open fewer hours than the rest of the library.
  • Browse the MASC home page, the links to different parts of the collection, particularly Help Finding Materials.
  • Do preliminary research first so that you can place the manuscript material in historical context.  Since manuscripts tend to be either personal papers or organizational records, it is essential to know the important people and groups associated with your research topic.
  • Look over the online collection guide, if available, prior to using this collection so that you can identify the boxes and folders you will need to examine.
  • Allocate sufficient time.  Research using manuscript material takes time.

Manuscript & Archival Collections Elsewhere

Digitized Guides for WSU Collections

Collections of unpublished personal papers, organizational records, and historical photographs are described and inventoried in detailed guides known as collection guides or finding aids. A collection guide helps the researcher to identify boxes or folders of interest with a manuscript or archival collection, providing background information on the organization, person, or family who created the papers or photographs, an overview of the collection and its arrangement, and a detailed container list. Many, though not all, collection guides are available to view on the MASC home page - search by topic, keyword(s), or name in the box "Search website for MASC materials."

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