Guide to Archival Research at the Museum of Northern Arizona

This guide is designed to assist researchers narrow the scope of their search in the Museum's archival collections by identifying the four main categories archival collections have been assigned; Manuscript Collections, Historic Reference Collection, Institutional Records, and Photo Archives. Each category has a page dedicated to listing the collections, with corresponding finding aids, which may be found under that category. Please see the Library & Archives Policies page for more information on how to access the materials.

Manuscript Collections

Manuscript collection consists of materials donated by families or individuals which related to the archaeology, natural science, or history of the Colorado Plateau and/or Flagstaff. The Archives holds over 340 manuscript collections, which include published and unpublished manuscripts, voice recordings, and photographs concerning regionally significant authors and subjects. These contain a substantial amount of culturally sensitive materials and may require special approval prior to access. The Colton family archives are a major manuscript collection that contains a wealth of information about the founding of the Museum and its early history. Finding aids for manuscript collections from archival repositories around the state can be found online at the Arizona Archives Online, consortial project.

Historic Reference Collections

Historical Reference Collections consists of materials that were donated but are not primary source materials (i.e. photocopies of research materials from another archival repository). These collections have been separated into their own grouping because MNA does not have the right to either grant access or permission to use these materials. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact the repositories holding the original materials.

Institutional Records

The Institutional Records are the records of the Museum of Northern Arizona. These records were created by various departments, committees, and individuals as part of the operations of the Museum over the course of its existence. Some of these materials may be accessible by the public, however, a vast majority are restricted.

Photo Archives

The Photo Archives consists of approximately 284,000 items including; negatives, glass plates, 35 mm slides, color transparencies, lantern slides, photographic prints, photogravures, and mounted photographic displays covering the late nineteenth century to the present created by MNA staff over the course of the Museum's research endeavors. Images cover the Colorado Plateau and the various research areas of the Museum of Northern Arizona. Primary subject matter includes prehistoric and historic Southwestern archaeology, ethnology of American Indians of the Southwest, museum artifacts, specimens, displays, and exhibits. Additional material documents Southwestern and Arizona history, and the ecology and environment of the Colorado Plateau. Guides are available for the Photo Archives and are separated out into categories.

NOTE: the guides show the categorization scheme for the Photo Archives so there may be sections which do not actually contain material.

The only collections available online at this time are on the Arizona Memory Project at

XML-coding of our finding aids is made possible through Oxygen's "Support Life Program."

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