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Special Collections Department Guide for Student Classes

Basic Principles of Archives


  • Those records which are no longer required for current use but have been selected for permanent preservation because of their evidential or informational value.

  • The place (building / room / storage area) where archival material is kept.

Two Major Principles

Original Order

The order in which records and archives were kept when in active use. The principle of original order requires that the original order be preserved or reconstructed, unless it is absolutely clear that there was no original order and that the records had been accumulated haphazardly.


  • The office or person or origin of records, i.e. the entity which created or accumulated and used the records in the conduct of business or personal life.

  • The chain of custody which reflects the office(s) or person(s) that created, received or accumulated and used the records in the conduct of business or in the course of personal life. Identifying and documenting the provenance of records is an essential part of establishing their authenticity.

  • In archival theory, the principle of provenance requires that the archives of an organization or person not be mixed or combined with the archives of another.

Adapted from Keeping Archives, c. 1987.

Library Use Only

Why are the items in Special Collections kept separate from the rest of the collection and listed in the catalog as “Library Use Only?” 

  • One-of-a-kind – impossible to replace 

  • Rare – very few known copies in libraries around the world 

  • Special storage needs of items for preservation (mylar sleeves, archival boxes, acid free folders & tissue, etc.) 

Contacts - Special Collections



Sharon Monigold

Sharon Monigold, Archivist, Archives of Ohio United Methodism



Eugene Rutigliano, Curator, OWU Historical Collection