Institute for Regional Studies Collections

Manuscript Finding Aid Listing
NDSU Libraries Institutional Repository (Do term searching of manuscript finding aids)
Donating Manuscripts & Personal Papers
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections

Institute Manuscript Collections

The manuscript collecting program of the Institute for Regional Studies Archives preserves personal papers and organization records of enduring historic value to support the research needs of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and other scholars at NDSU and beyond. The uniqueness and strength of the Institute manuscripts lies in its extensive holdings of more than 1,200 collections. They range in size from a single letter to a more than a 100-box set of business records. These manuscripts document such phenomena as the agricultural development of the state, particularly the bonanza farming era; the everyday life of the early pioneers; the era of the Nonpartisan League; and the women of North Dakota as seen in diaries and their varied organizations. Also documented are the lives and works of North Dakota literary figures, our many ethnic groups and the development of an urban society through City of Fargo and Cass County records.

Research tools

The primary research tools to aid researchers in locating desired materials include the electronic finding aids to individual collections and the NDSU Libraries online catalog. The finding aids are available both in a single alphabetical listing and a broad subject area listing. To search for manuscript collections located at other archives in the state consult the ODIN online catalog. Some of the Institute as well as State Historical Society of North and the University of North Dakota archival collections are searchable through the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. This database is maintained by the Library of Congress and includes archival collections found at institutions across the United States.


The manuscript collections are available for research in the Institute/Archives Research Room, and reference staff is available to assist in your research needs. Copying facilities are also available. A number of collections are kept in off-site storage and are so noted on the alphabetical listing. At least a 24-hour notice is needed to make these collections available for use at the Institute's main Research Room.

Loaning Manuscript Collections

Through an agreement between the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the University of North Dakota Chester Fritz Library Department of Special Collections and the Institute for Regional Studies Archives & University Archives, manuscript and archival collections may be loaned among the three institutions. Please contact the archival staff for specific information. This loan program does not apply to photograph collections, books or maps. Consult the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the University of North Dakota web pages for additional information on their manuscript holdings.


Institute Photograph Collections

Visual images, which add a new dimension to the historical record, constitute one of the Institute's most valuable resources. The collecting and preserving of historical images has been a primary collection focus of the Institute since its founding in 1950. Currently the photography collection numbers more than 100,000 items. The visual images preserved at the Institute touch upon almost every aspect of North Dakota life. Particular strengths include sod houses and pioneer life, all aspects of agriculture in the state, social scenes, and views of Fargo and other North Dakota cities and towns.


The primary online access tool is Digital Horizons where currently over 8,500 images have been digitized and made available for research use. Each image on Digital Horizons includes complete descriptive information and links to related information including how to obtain reproductions. The Holdings link provides a complete listing of all photograph collections with a link to the finding aids for all fully processed collections. The Institute for Regional Studies Archives was one of ten recipients of a Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition award in 1997. These awards allowed institutions across the United States to create digital collections of primary resources to be offered through the Library of Congress' American Memory website. The Institute's contribution, Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920, features the Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection and the F.A. Pazandak Photograph Collections which include over 900 images of life on the Northern Great Plains between 1880 and 1920. Processed photograph collections are also described in the NDSU Libraries online catalog. Each record includes a link to the online finding aid. Term searching of all Photograph Collection Finding aids is available on the NDSU Institutional Repository site. In addition, the photography collections are available for use in the Institute research room, and reference staff is available to assist in your research needs. Digital reproductions of most materials are possible.


We welcome donations to our photography collection. The images preserved at the Institute and enjoyed by many are due to the generosity of donors such as yourself. If you are considering donating digital images of historical photographs please consult the Donating Digital Images link for our requirements and benchmarks for digital capture. For further information regarding the Institute's collecting of photographic and other documentary materials, consult its Collection Development Policy.

Interlibrary Loan

Materials from the NDSU Archive are not available through Interlibrary Loan. Please contact the Archives for information about acquiring copies of materials.

Contact Information

Consult our Contact Us page.