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History 479 - Nebraska and Great Plains History

How to: Contact an Archivist/Curator

Cultural heritage organizations (museums, archives, historical societies, etc) workers are busy people. To get the best, quickest response from them, start with the tips below for crafting a message.


Greeting: Dear or Hello are usually best. If there is a specific contact listed, address your message to that person. If not, just use "Dear" or "Hello"


-Introduce yourself: Name, UNK student, what class/project this research is for

-Research topic: one to two sentence description of your topic.

-Why are you contacting this place? - address specific collections you are interested in seeing, which finding aids or collection descriptions of theirs that interested you.

-What, specifically do you need from them? 


-If they don't have general open hours, ask to set up a time to visit.

-Ask if there are related collections or additional materials you should consult.

-Thank them for their time.

Dear Dr. Stark:

My name is Pepper Potts and I am a student at New York University. I am working on a project on the history of superheroes. On your website, I saw that you had information on Captain America [include specific collection name/finding aid/item]. I was wondering if there is a time I could come examine the materials, and if you had any additional or related collections.


Pepper Potts

Analyze Primary Sources

  1. Meet the document (any primary source). Think about basic characteristics of the document.

  2. Observe its parts. Who created it? When and where is it from?

  3. Try to make sense of it. What information does it tell you? Why was it created? How does it related to historical events?

  4. Use it as historical evidence. How does this support your understanding of an event or topic? How could you use the source?

For suggestions for how to analyze specific types of primary sources, consult the Library of Congress or the National Archives.

Citing Primary Sources

Additional Tutorials

Looking for more assistance with your research? See the History Guide's tutorials or try our Research Tips and Tricks tutorial.