Archives & Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library
Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to the Archives Department and when are you open?

Does the Archives Department have special rules?

How do I request photocopies and scans?

How do I start researching a historical subject?

What kinds of material can I find in Archives and Special Collections?

How do I research a particular house?

How do I find information on genealogy?

How do I find photographs?

How can I find out how much my rare book is worth?

Where can I find someone to repair my old book?

I have some old family papers - what should I do with them?

What are archives, anyway?

How do I contact the Archives Department staff?

Who started the MSU Archives?


How do I get to the Archives Department and when are you open?


The Archives & Special Collections Department is temporarily located in the Parra Ballroom of the New Ranch on the campus of McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Please call or email for an appointment at least 24 hours in advance to use the collections.

Telephone: (337) 475-5734
E-mail: archivesdept@mcneese.edu

Please visit the following links for more information:
Visitor Information and Driving Directions
Campus Parking information and Maps

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Does the Archives Department have special rules?
Like all special collections libraries, we have very specific rules about how people can use our materials. We encourage researchers to use our materials, but we need to preserve them for future scholars to use as well. For this reason, we do not allow patrons to take materials out of the archives department. We also have rules about how patrons handle our materials. See the Reading Room Rules for more information.

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How do I request photocopies and scans?

Patrons may request photocopies of our materials for 10 cents per page and $3.00 for mailing. Digital images are available for $2.00 per scan. For more information, please see our rules page or contact the Archives (see above).

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How do I start researching a historical subject?

Historical research can be a long and complicated undertaking. In general, the steps are:

  • State the question you are trying to answer or the thesis you are trying to prove as specifically as possible.

  • Search for published materials (books and journal articles) on your subject. See the library's database list to search for published materials.

  • Refine your question or thesis, if necessary.

  • Consult secondary sources such as newspapers, city directories, yearbooks, etc.

  • Finally, search for primary sources in archives repositories. No one source exists to search for archives nationwide. Here are some places to start:
    MSU Archives
    Library of Congress
    WorldCat

The librarians at Frazar Memorial Library can help you find specific resources to help in your research.

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How do I research a particular house?

The Archives staff can help you find information about houses and buildings in Southwest Louisiana. In the Archives, you can:

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What kinds of material can I find in Archives & Special Collections?

We collect materials useful for studying the history of Southwest Louisiana. These materials come in just about any format, including unpublished records and papers, books, pamphlets, periodicals, maps, architectural drawings and blueprints, paintings, photographic negatives and prints, audio recordings, video recordings, microfilm, clothing, and artifacts of a manageable size and weight. Most of our materials fall into the following categories:

Archives. We have about 275 collections of archives. You can find them through the library's Online Public Access Catalog or through our list of finding aids.

Books. We have several different collections of Rare and Special Books. You can find specific titles through the library's Online Public Access Catalog.

Oral Histories. Over the years, the MSU archives has participated in various oral history projects yielding many recordings of interviews with local citizens.

Photographs. We have over 4,000 photographs of people and places in Southwest Louisiana. You can find some of our more popular photographs in the Louisiana Digital Library. For a complete listing of our photographs, contact the archives staff or visit the reading room.

Maps. We have a strong collection of maps of Southwest Louisiana throughout history. Contact the archives staff or visit the reading room for access to our map collection.

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How do I find information on genealogy?

While we do not specifically collect genealogy materials, we do have some resources that could prove helpful. Please visit our homepage to search our collections. To learn more about how to get started in genealogy, contact the fabulous librarians at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library.

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How do I find photographs?

The McNeese Archives holds thousands of photographs of people and places of Southwest Louisiana. You can find our most popular images in the Louisiana Digital Library. We have a complete list of our photographs in the Archives office.  Please contact the Archives staff for help in searching the list.

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How can I find out how much my rare book is worth?

The staff of the MSU Archives cannot appraise materials.  We can point you to several resources to perform your own research to see how other sellers price books. Click here to visit our preservation and appraisal links page.

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Where can I find someone to repair my old book?

Frazar Memorial Library has a preservation lab run by the Archives staff. We can perform minor repairs on books, such as a torn spine or a loose cover. If your book has more extensive damage, we can refer you to a professional bookbinder. We can also give advice on preserving other types of materials. Click here to visit our preservation and appraisal links page.

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I have some old family papers - what should I do with them?

We would be happy to talk with you about donating your papers to our archives or any other repository. Please contact a staff member for more information. Also, please see the Society of American Archivists' Guide to Donating your Personal or Family Papers.

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What are archives, anyway?

Different people define archives in different ways.  The most widely accepted definition is Dr. David B. Gracy II's: "Archives are the records, organically related, of an entity, systematically maintained because they contain information of continuing value." In other words, archives aren't just old, dusty papers lying around, but rather the body of documents created by a person or organization over its lifetime. In reality, though, people rarely keep every document, so most archives collections consist of only one or a few items of historical significance. To learn more about archives and archivists, see: O'Toole, James M.  Understanding Archives and Manuscripts.  Chicago:  Society of American Archivists, 1990.

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How do I contact the Archives Department staff?
Telephone: (337) 475-5734 or 5731
Fax: (337) 475-5719

E-mail: archivesdept@mcneese.edu

Archives & Special Collections
Box 91445
Frazar Memorial Library
McNeese State University
Lake Charles, LA 70609

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Who started the archives?

The Frazar Memorial Library Archives and Special Collections Department began in 1980 when Richard Reid was the Director of the Library. Reid began the Department at the request of Dr. Robert D. Hebert who later became the President of McNeese State University. When it began, it consisted of one collection - the Rosa Hart scrapbooks that were saved from a fire at the Lake Charles Little Theatre. Kathie Bordelon volunteered to work with the collection on a part-time basis. Since then, the Department has flourished, proving Dr. Hebertís premise that there was a need for an archives in the University that would serve the entire Southwest Louisiana community.  Kathie directed the Archives from its inception until her retirement in May, 2010. The Archivist and Special Collections Librarian is Pati Threatt, a Lake Charles native and McNeese faculty member since 2003.

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