University Libraries & Learning Sciences Faculty and Staff Publications

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Publication Date

Summer 2017


Popular connotations of archives and special collections are most closely aligned with the arts and humanities fields, with history being the most seamless affiliation. However, archival documentation extends far beyond common disciplinary assumptions, with strong holdings relevant to the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as medicine and other allied disciplines. These archival collections provide largely untapped educational, enrichment, and research opportunities for STEM students and researchers.

Given the profound influx of digitization during the last two decades, many archival primary source materials have been digitized and are now freely available online, with more assuredly in progress. This digital content is in large part unique, oftentimes representing digital surrogates of the only tangible copy of a document, image, object, or unique assemblage of materials ever created. An intrinsic value in archives is their uniqueness in addition to their authenticity, diversity, breadth, and depth of documentation. Digitized archival collections can serve to supplement an institution's physical archival holdings, if available, as well as make particularly unique or historically significant physical collections (i.e., the papers of Charles Darwin), once limited by geography, easily accessible to librarians, archivists, researchers, educators, and students around the world.

Accessibility and findability of digitized archival resources can be a challenge, particularly for students or researchers not familiar with archival formats and digital interfaces, which adhere to different descriptive standards than more widely familiar library resources. Numerous aggregate archival collection databases exist, which provide a means by which to search across collections from many institutions. However, no single database is comprehensive, and many also lack robust capabilities for subject-based browsing to target STEM collections. The selected resources in this webliography are intended as a starting point by which librarians, archivists, educators, and students may discover digitized archival primary sources related to STEM and allied disciplines, which may be creatively used as tools to inform instruction, teaching, research, library collection development, marketing, and reference services. The resources embody a wide-ranging selection of noteworthy, historically significant STEM-focused archival primary source collections currently digitized and publicly accessible.

Publication Title

Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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