Archival Studies Specialization

Archives play a critically important role in many aspects of society. As repositories of a culture’s unique documents, records and other texts, archives serve as basic tools for social accountability, the preservation and dissemination of historical memory, and the development of a richer understanding of cultural, social and political forces in an increasingly digital and networked world.

In addition to covering traditional archives and manuscripts theory and practice, this area of specialization addresses the dramatic expansion of the archival field.  It charts how accelerating technological developments have changed both the form of the record and methods for its dissemination and preservation. It responds to shifting social and political conditions as well as the increased codification of archival practice through local and international standards development.  It actively engages debates about archival theory and societal roles in diverse archival and cultural jurisdictions.

The specialization comprises a range of courses, experiential components, and research opportunities.  Courses explore the full spectrum of archival materials (e.g., paper and electronic records, manuscripts, still and moving images, oral history); the theory that underlies recordkeeping, archival policy development and memory-making; and the historical roles that recordkeeping, archives, and documentary evidence play in a pluralized and increasingly global society. All students in Archival Studies are required to take IS 431 American Archives and Manuscripts as a foundation course for the specialization.  Advanced seminars and an outstanding array of internship opportunities prepare students to play leadership roles in archives and manuscripts administration, records management, archival education and training, preservation, digital curatorship, recordkeeping policy development, archival systems design, electronic records management, and digital asset management.  Students will also be expected to take research methods and statistics, and the core requirements for the M.L.I.S. degree. Students may select additional electives from Information Studies and/or from the following areas: American Law, Anthropology, History of Science, Moving Image Archival Studies, Management, Museum Studies, Sociology, History, and inter-disciplinary studies programs that are offered in other UCLA departments and schools.  Dual master’s degrees are available with the Anderson School of Management, Latin American Studies and Asian American Studies (pending).

Students are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of internship and field experience opportunities available at over 250 approved sites in the southern California area. Internship sites include archives, museums, libraries, and information centers in such prestigious organizations as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, RAND Corp., the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the L.A. County Museum of Art, Dreamworks SKG, Walt Disney Imagineering, the Japanese American National Museum, the University of Southern California, and the Henry E. Huntington Library. Many internships are also available within UCLA, including UCLA Special Collections, Mayor Tom Bradley Collection, UCLA Film and Television Archive, the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, and the UCLA Oral History Program.  Students are also able to participate in additional internship programs both nationally and internationally.

Archival students may also choose to complement their coursework with research experience.  Information Studies faculty associated with the Archival Studies specialization have obtained funding from many prestigious research agencies including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Australian Research Council, the Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS -  France), the Commission on Library and Information Resources, and Intel Corporation for projects as diverse as curricular innovation in archival education, use of primary sources in elementary and undergraduate science education, preservation of electronic records and digital music composition, new paradigms for educational access to archival resources, evaluation of online archives and museum resources, and the development of prototypes for digital retrieval of archival film.  See: as well as the Center for Information as Evidence http:// for further information on ongoing research initiatives relating to the Archival Studies specialization. 

Examples of student emphases within the Archival Studies specialization include:

Graduates may work in both the private and public sectors in a number of roles, and are likely to work closely with others such as records creators, historical researchers, technologists, public officials, journalists, lawyers, and non-traditional users of archives.

In addition to promoting the highest professional standards in archival activities, students are challenged to provide leadership within their own field and to advocate for archives and records concerns to the wider community. They will be challenged to investigate common orthodoxies in order to encourage innovation and to re-think traditional models of archival organization and service to address the rapidly changing needs of the field and the increasingly diverse populations of records creators and users.

UCLA also supports strong student chapters of the Society of American Archivists and the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Further information about the Archival Studies Specialization is available at <>.

Updated: 5/9/14