University Archives: More About the Archives

College of Engineering classroom scence, 1980s.
College of Engineering classroom, 1980s.


The University Archives is the primary collection that the NC State University Libraries holds to document university history.  The Libraries' Special Collections Research Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible resources that document the growth and development of North Carolina State University and its continued service to the people of North Carolina.  It provides a resource for study and scholarship while ensuring that future generations will have resources available to understand and interpret the history and achievements of NC State. 

Boarding knit hosiery in College of Textiles, 1948
Knit hosiery, College of Textiles, 1948

To make university history more accessible to the NC State community and researchers, the NC State University Libraries has created the Historical State website where many documents, photographs, and other materials are available, but significantly more historical resources exist only in paper, film, and other physical formats.  Historical State also contains timelines and other historical information.

Students in College of Design studio, 1960s
College of Design studio, 1960s

By preserving the university's documentary heritage, Special Collections makes it possible to study contributions by university community members to the institution's growth. Beyond collecting the institutional records of NC State, Special Collections also collects materials on student activities, participation, and leadership, including documentation of NC State's Student Government, Greek Life, and other student organizations.

Genetics research, circa 1960
Genetics research, circa 1960


The University Archives is comprised of primary source material created or collected by university staff, faculty, administrators, and students during the history of the university. These materials date from 1879 to the present, and they include records documenting the development of Cooperative Extension, the Agricultural Research Service, and other university units that directly engage with North Carolina's citizens. 

Listed below are specific types of materials found in the University Archives.  These encompass both digital and hardcopy formats.

Engineering research, 1951
Engineering research, 1951
4-H poultry club members, 1923
4-H poultry club members, 1923
  • correspondence
  • annual and other reports
  • meeting minutes
  • pamphlets
  • brochures
  • flyers
  • proceedings
  • newsletters
  • manuals
  • organizational charts
  • speeches
  • student organization records
  • architectural drawings
  • maps
  • photographs
  • motion picture film
  • video and audio recordings

More detailed descriptions of University Archives holdings are available through online collection guides (see below).

Collection Guides

Most records held in the University Archives are stored in boxes.  The Special Collections staff has created online collection guides that detail box contents.  There are guides for most University Archives record groups and sub-groups, as well as other university history collections. 


According to archival principles, records in NC State's University Archives are organized by the campus units and organizations that originally created or maintained them. The Archives are broken down into record groups and sub-groups that correspond to the university's colleges, departments, student groups, etc.  Examples include Office of the Chancellor, Marye Anne Fox Records; Department of Nuclear Engineering Records; Society of Afro-American Culture Records; Delta Lambda Phi, Beta Alpha Chapter Records; etc.

Classification mumbers are assigned to record groups and sub-groups, essentially serving as call numbers to assist patrons in gaining access to the materials. For example, the number UA 105 is for the the College of Engineering Records and UA 105.016 for the Department of Nuclear Engineering Records.

Origins of the University Archives