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Harold Colton Research CenterHarold Colton Research Center home of the Harold S. Colton Memorial Library


The Harold S. Colton Memorial Library  began with the donation of Harold S. and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton's personal library. As the collection grew, the library found a home in the Museum's Harold Colton Research Center Building, built in 1954. The main research area is referred to as the Katharine Bartlett Reading Room, named for the long-time friend of the Colton's and first Librarian/Historical Curator for the Museum.

The library's collection has grown to include several hundred periodicals, 50,000 books, 28,000 separates (pamphlets/booklets), and several thousand maps. The Library's collections are strongest in the fields of archaeology, ethnology, and geology, with additional materials on biology, geography, history, art, and museology. The Library, with its strong retrospective collection, is an indispensable resource for anyone doing research on the Colorado Plateau.

The Museum of Northern Arizona Archives seeks to further the mission of the Museum of Northern Arizona by collecting and disseminating documentary and photographic information on the land and peoples of the Colorado Plateau. The Archives also documents the rich heritage of the Museum of Northern Arizona and its impact on the Flagstaff community.

Besides documents and images with great historical significance, the Archives documents 84 years of research and collaboration between staff, researchers, and tribes in northern Arizona. The greater part of the Archives is primary, original, unique and irreplaceable. The Archives includes over 300 manuscripts, 284,000 images (including; photographs, digital images, negatives), films, audio recordings, and institutional records.

The photo archives holds a variety of media types ranging across audio, video, and electronic formats. For photographic media, the photo archives holds approximately 100,000 prints, 140,000 acetate negatives, and 48,000 slides, as well as glass and nitrate based media.

The Archives relocated into the Easton Collections Center (ECC) starting in 2008, and completed the move in Fall 2016.

Key points about MNA's Archives:

  1. The Museum has been collecting archival materials since its creation in 1928
  2. The first full-time, professional archivist was hired in 2007.
  3. About 75% of the collections lack detailed finding-aids, another 15% is described but not to modern standards.
  4. There is one full-time archivist to facilitate access, and can not do research.
  5. A majority of the collections have some form of restriction so it can take time to work out appropriate access.


To see projects the Library & Archives has partnered on or assisted with, see our Archives-in-Action page.


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