Archival sources include letters, unpublished manuscripts, limited-circulation brochures and pamphlets, in-house institutional and corporate documents, clippings, and other documents, as well as such nontextual materials as photographs and apparatus, that are in the personal possession of an author, form part of an institutional collection, or are stored in an archive such as the Archives of the History of American Psychology at the University of Akron or the APA Archives. For any documents like these that are available on the open web or via a database (subscription or nonsubscription), follow the reference templates shown in Chapter 10 of the Publication Manual.

Archival document and collections are not presented in the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition. This content is available only on the APA Style website. 

The general format for the reference for an archival work includes the author, date, title, and source. The reference examples shown on this page may be modified for collections requiring more or less specific information to locate materials, for different types of collections, or for additional descriptive information (e.g., a translation of a letter). Authors may choose to list correspondence from their own personal collections, but correspondence from other private collections should be listed only with the permission of the collector.

Keep in mind the following principles when creating references to archival documents and collections:

  • As with any reference, the purpose is to direct readers to the source, despite the fact that only a single copy of the document may be available and readers may have some difficulty actually seeing a copy.
  • Include as much information as is needed to help locate the item with reasonable ease within the repository. For items from collections with detailed finding aids, the name of the collection may be sufficient; for items from collections without finding aids, more information (e.g., call number, box number, file name or number) may be necessary to help locate the item.
  • If several letters are cited from the same collection, list the collection as a reference and provide specific identifying information (author, recipient, and date) for each letter in the in-text citations (see Example 3).
  • Use square brackets to indicate information that does not appear on the document.
  • Use “ca.” (circa) to indicate an estimated date (see Example 5).
  • Use italics for titles of archival documents and collections; if the work does not have a title, provide a description in square brackets without italics.
  • Separate elements of the source (e.g., the name of a repository, library, university or archive, and the location of the university or archive) with commas. End the source with a period.
  • If a publication of limited circulation is available in libraries, the reference may be formatted as usual for published material, without the archival source.
  • Note that private letters (vs. those in an archive or repository) are considered personal communications and cited in the text only.
1. Letter from a repository

Frank, L. K. (1935, February 4). [Letter to Robert M. Ogden]. Rockefeller Archive Center (GEB Series 1.3, Box 371, Folder 3877), Tarrytown, NY, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Frank, 1935)
  • Narrative citation: Frank (1935)
  • Because the letter does not have a title, provide a description in square brackets.
2. Letter from a private collection

Zacharius, G. P. (1953, August 15). [Letter to William Rickel (W. Rickel, Trans.)]. Copy in possession of Hendrika Vande Kemp.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Zacharius, 1953)
  • Narrative citation: Zacharius (1953)
  • In this example, Hendrika Vande Kemp is either the author of the paper or the author of the paper has received permission from Hendrika Vande Kemp to cite a letter in Vande Kemp’s private collection in this way. Otherwise, cite a private letter as a personal communication.
3. Collection of letters from an archive

Allport, G. W. (1930–1967). Correspondence. Gordon W. Allport Papers (HUG 4118.10), Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Allport, 1930–1967)
  • Narrative citation: Allport (1930–1967)

To cite specific letters in the text, provide the author and range of years as shown in the reference list entry, plus details about who wrote the specific letter to whom and when the specific letter was written.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Allport, 1930–1967, G. Boring to Allport, December 26, 1937)
  • Narrative citation: Allport (1930–1967, Allport to G. Boring, March 1, 1939)
  • Use the parenthetical citation format to cite a letter that E. G. Boring wrote to Allport because Allport is the author in the reference. Use either the parenthetical or narrative citation format to cite letters that Allport wrote.
4. Unpublished papers, lectures from an archive or personal collection

Berliner, A. (1959). Notes for a lecture on reminiscences of Wundt and Leipzig. Anna Berliner Memoirs (Box M50), Archives of the History of American Psychology, University of Akron, Akron, OH, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Berliner, 1959)
  • Narrative citation: Berliner (1959)
5. Archival/historical source for which the author and/or date is known or is reasonably certain but not stated on the document

Allport, A. (presumed). (ca. 1937). Marion Taylor today—by the biographer [Unpublished manuscript]. Marion Taylor Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Allport, ca. 1937)
  • Narrative citation: Allport (ca. 1937)
  • Because the author is reasonably certain but not stated on the document, place the word “presumed” in parentheses after the name, followed by a period.
  • Because the date is reasonably certain but not stated on the document, the abbreviation “ca.” (which stands for “circa”) appears before the year in parentheses.
6. Archival source with group author

Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs. (1949, November 5–6). Meeting of Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs. David Shakow Papers (M1360), Archives of the History of American Psychology, University of Akron, Akron, OH, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs, 1949)
  • Narrative citation: Subcommittee on Mental Hygiene Personnel in School Programs (1949)
7. Interview recorded and available in an archive

Smith, M. B. (1989, August 12). Interview by C. A. Kiesler [Tape recording]. President’s Oral History Project, American Psychological Association, APA Archives, Washington, DC, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Smith, 1989)
  • Narrative citation: Smith (1989)
  • For interviews and oral histories recorded in an archive, list the interviewee as the author. Include the interviewer’s name in the description.
8. Transcription of a recorded interview, no recording available

Sparkman, C. F. (1973). An oral history with Dr. Colley F. Sparkman/Interviewer: Orley B. Caudill. Mississippi Oral History Program (Vol. 289), University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Sparkman, 1973)
  • Narrative citation: Sparkman (1973)
  • For interviews and oral histories recorded in an archive, list the interviewee as the author. Include the interviewer’s name in the description.
9. Newspaper article clipping, historical, in personal collection

Psychoanalysis institute to open. (1948, September 18). [Clipping from an unidentified Dayton, OH, United States, newspaper]. Copy in possession of author.

  • Parenthetical citation: (“Psychoanalysis Institute to Open,” 1948)
  • Narrative citation: “Psychoanalysis Institute to Open” (1948)
  • Use this format only if you are the person who is in possession of the newspaper clipping.
10. Historical publication of limited circulation

Sci-Art Publishers. (1935). Sci-Art publications [Brochure]. Roback Papers (HUGFP 104.50, Box 2, Folder “Miscellaneous Psychological Materials”), Harvard University Archives, Cambridge, MA, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (Sci-Art Publishers, 1935)
  • Narrative citation: Sci-Art Publishers (1935)
11. Archived photographs, no author and no title

[Photographs of Robert M. Yerkes]. (ca. 1917–1954). Robert Mearns Yerkes Papers (Box 137, Folder 2292), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, CT, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: ([Photographs of Robert M. Yerkes], ca. 1917–1954)
  • Narrative citation: [Photographs of Robert M. Yerkes] (ca. 1917–1954)
  • Because the archived photographs do not have a title, provide a bracketed description instead.
  • Because the archived photographs do not have an author, move the bracketed description to the author position of the reference.
12. Microfilm

U.S. Census Bureau. (1880). 1880 U.S. census: Defective, dependent, and delinquent classes schedule: Virginia [Microfilm]. NARA Microfilm Publication T1132 (Rolls 33–34), National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, United States.

  • Parenthetical citation: (U.S. Census Bureau, 1880)
  • Narrative citation: U.S. Census Bureau (1880)