The NDSU Archives is comprised of two collecting areas.  Founded in 1950, the Institute for Regional Studies Archives, actively seeks out collections in all formats that enhance its holdings on the history of North Dakota and the Red River Valley. Its collections include extensive manuscript holdings, over 20,000 volumes related to North Dakota, one of the most extensive photograph collections in the state, as well as maps, audio-visual and other media. The Institute also holds the collection of North Dakota native son, Lawrence Welk, including sheet music produced for his television show, scrapbooks and other associated items.

The University Archives focuses on non-current records generated by university units as well as of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension. It also preserves the papers of former faculty members. Among its holdings are the first minute books of the College Council from October 1890 forward; copies of the Spectrum (student newspaper) from 1896 to present;  extensive photographs, negatives and slides for the university and experiment station; and a collection of over 20,000 glass plate negatives for the university and state primarily from the 1920s and 1930s.