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MLA Citation Guide (MLA 9th Edition): Special Collections

Discover the ins and outs of MLA citation

General Guidelines

The following steps will help you cite archival sources:

  1. Refer to the MLA citation guidelines for the specific source (e.g. image, book, film).
  2.  Include relevant details for reader to access the information (e.g. box and folder number or name, collection and archives name, affiliation and location).
  3. Include the date you accessed the archives.

The following format for Citing Archival Resources is provided by the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

Genre-appropriate MLA Citation. Box number, Folder number. Unique identifier and collection name. Archives name, Institutional affiliation, Location. Date accessed.

Core Elements

MLA Core ElementsCitations of archival material follow the general guidelines outlined in the core elements.

(Author, Creator, Photographer) Last Name, First Name. Title of Work. Container (for example Collection Name), Other Contributors, Title of Website (if part of digital archives), Date of work, Location. Accessed Date.

For More Information

Archival Photos


Photographer's Last Name, First Name. “Title of the Picture.” Collection Name, Title of the Website, Date, URL. Accessed Date. 

(Photographer's Last Name or “Title of the Picture”)


“Parade, downtown Reno.” UNRS-P2012-10, Neal Cobb Digital Photograph Collection. University of Nevada Reno Special Collections and University Archives, Accessed 17 Dec. 2021.

(“Parade, downtown Reno")

In this example, the photographer's name is unknown so the citation begins with the next element, the title. There is not a date so that element is skipped in the citation.

Unpublished Letters


Author's Last Name, First Name. Letter to Recipient's First Name Last Name. Date. Collection Name, Name of Repository, Location. Format.

(Author's Last Name)


Stafford, Harlowe M. Letter to H.P. Boardman. 24 January 1936. James Edward Church Papers, Special Collections & University Archives, Reno. Typescript.