Giving to the Library
Center for Primary Research and Training

Learning the Art of the Archive

Primary source materials are essential to advanced research, and access to them is a critical first step in the discovery of unique thesis and dissertation topics. Yet many UCLA graduate students are not aware of the Library's rich holdings of original documents and do not possess the archival skills to utilize them. In response to this need, the UCLA Library  has created the Center for Primary Research and Training in the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections.

The center employs graduate students in the humanities and social sciences and trains them to arrange, organize, and describe uncataloged or underprocessed collections of archives, manuscripts, and books. These activities:

  • provide essential archival training to graduate students;
  • increase student access to lesser-known collections, which is especially helpful to graduate students seeking original subjects for theses and dissertations;
  • utilize the expertise of graduate students in cataloging materials within their specific field of academic interest;
  • enhance accessibility of collections to other researchers through student-generated finding aids, or inventories; 
  • provide employment to UCLA students at a rate competitive to other campus options such as teaching and research assistantships.

The center helps integrate special collections materials more fully into the teaching and research missions of the university by providing a substantive educational experience for graduate students and by improving access to collections for all.  Support for the center helps build a library that is more competitive and attractive to top-ranked faculty and students, which supports the goals of UCLA's Ensuring Academic Excellence Initiative.

For more information on supporting the center, contact Library Development by email at or by phone at 310.206.8526.