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Special Collections & Archives: Archives

Archives are original, unpublished sources that are not available elsewhere. Collections can encompass a wide range of materials, from hand-written letters to literary drafts, music scores, architectural drawings, prints, maps or sound recordings.

Collection guides describe the content, arrangement, and research value of our archives so that researchers can access and use them with ease. Written to international standard, these finding aids typically contain a biography or history that briefly describes the significance of the organisation(s) or the person(s) to whom a collection relates; a description that outlines the research strengths of the collection; and information on the series or categories into which the material is organised. Series are often based on material type, for example, correspondence, or on a specific subject, for example, a politician's term in office.

To view items from the archives, consult the collection guides and contact us to arrange a visit.

University Archives

The University Archives preserve the historically significant records of the University of Limerick and its predecessors, the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, and Thomond College of Education, Limerick founded in 1973 as the National College of Physical Education.

The archives document the planning and growth of the campus, the development and administration of academic and administrative programmes and services, faculty concerns, student life, and community relations. Within the collections, you will find official reports, correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports and plans, as well as oral histories, photographs, maps, ephemera, newsletters, publications, brochures, video and audio recordings. These rich primary sources bring to life the University’s history and culture from its early years in the 1970s to the digital culture of the 2010s.

A wide range of published sources relating to the history of the University of Limerick are also available for reference in the Special Collections reading room.

Photo showing first class of the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, June 1976.

Citing archival materials

Like published materials, you must cite the archival sources used in the course of your research. When citing published materials held in Special Collections & Archives, use the format proscribed by the citation style you are following (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). For more information, see the Glucksman Library's guide to referencing in the University of Limerick.

When citing unpublished materials, the preferred citation is as follows:

[Item identification.] [Name of collection.]  Special Collections and Archives, University of Limerick.

Using the item on the left hand side as an example:

P40/384, Note appointing Alderman Stephen M. O'Mara as interim Mayor in the absence of the Mayor of Limerick, The O'Mara Papers. Special Collections and Archives, University of Limerick.


Citing digital archives

Citing digital items is sometimes challenging because the web address for a particular item may change over time. In order to provide a more stable reference point for digital items, Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) and Archival Resource Keys (ARK) were developed. DOIs and ARKs are unique strings of numbers, letters, and symbols that link to a single digital object or item. If a digital item has a unique number assigned to it, you should include it as the first element in your citation. This should be followed by the collection’s unique identifier and collection name. Then include the archive's name, institutional affiliation and location.

Archives at Special Collections

Special Collections houses a range of archives of private origin. These include private family and estate collections, the papers of noted literary and political figures, as well as collections of local interest. For collections that have been processed and described, a finding aid is available for download as a PDF.

Take a look at the Final Year Projects section for an overview of the subject strengths of archives at the Glucksman Library.

Featured Collection

The Shannon Development Archive is an extensive collection of photographic material, associated press clippings and brochures. The collection dates from the establishment of the company in 1959 and covers its role in regional development over the subsequent fifty-four years. The collection chronicles the evolution of the Shannon region from a large agricultural base to a leading industrial and tourism centre. Among the material generated by Shannon Development are images and print material relating to the development of tourism and industry throughout the region (Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary, South Offaly and North Kerry).

Black and white photograph taken c.1960 showing Charlie Chaplin and family on arrival in Shannon for summer holidays in County Kerry, a trip made annually for over a decade.