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What are archives?
Archives are the first-hand, informational materials coming from the people and the time you are studying. Archival materials for Route 66 might include postcards, photographs, oral histories, maps, advertisements, and films, as well as large groups of records of Route 66 businesses and government offices, and the personal accounts and records of people who traveled or lived along the route. Did you know there are more than 25 American Indian tribes that live along the route? There are also many Mexican-American communities as well as European-American ethnic communities and businesses that make up Route 66’s American mosaic. And travelers then and now come from across North America, Europe, and beyond. Archivists seek to document all these people and to cover many subjects such as tourism, transportation, business, arts, city and regional development, and many aspects of cultures and history along the route from its inception in 1926 to the present.
Where do I find archives?
Most Route 66 archives are found in cultural heritage institutions and government archives across the US, including:
- Historical societies
- College and university libraries
- Public libraries
- Museum archives
- State archives
Search online digital collections from cultural institutions, including:
- Library of Congress, American Memory Project
- National Archives
- National Archives Digital Vaults
- New Mexico’s Digital Collections
- Digital Archives at the Northern Arizona University – Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives
- Online Archive of California
Archives are often trickier to unearth than books and other published materials. Fortunately, they are becoming easier to find in the digital age. Archivists often recommend that you start your research with books and articles to help you better understand your topic before diving into archives.