Skip to Main Content
* UC Irvine access only

Art: Archival Research


Archival Research

Primary Sources
Primary source documents in visual arts research may include: interviews, correspondence, exhibition catalogs, pamphlets, oral histories, artists' journals and/orr statements, among others. While these documents can become a treasure trove for original research, they are often difficult to trace. Most archive collections provide finding aids to navigate the scope and context of what exists inside a particular collection. 

What is a finding aid?
A finding aid is simply a tool to enable discovery of information as it places materials in context by consolidating information about the collection, such as acquisition & processing, provenance, administrative history or biographical note, scope of the collection (including size, subjects, media; organization and arrangement) and an inventory of the series and the folders. This page provides helpful tools to browse and discover archival collections in museums and libraries nationally and internationally. If you are new to archival research, please don't hesitate to contact your visual arts librarian!

Archives & Special Collections at UCI Libraries
If you're looking to explore the collections housed locally here at UCI Libraries, please visit the Special Collections & Archives web page.

Tools to Discover Archival Collections


Featured Open Source Archives

Celebrate the history of women artists and art historians by exploring and transcribing archival collections from the Archives of American Art. Through diaries, notebooks, essays, and correspondence, learn about the life and careers of painters, sculptors, writers, critics, art historians, and other creative women who made their mark on American history.


The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), a subset of the South Asia Materials Project (SAMP), creates and maintains a collection of open access materials for the study of South Asia. This major collaborative initiative is aimed at addressing the current scarcity of digital resources pertinent to South Asia studies and at making collections more widely accessible both to North American scholars and to researchers worldwide.

Online Archives

Connecting to Library Resources

  • The Lock Icon icon means this resource is paid for by the libraries and requires UCI authentication. 
  • For help with VPN & connecting off-campus visit