Archives—American Alpine Club Archives document a singular method of exploration of the American West, and exploration of the mountainous regions of other countries by Americans. This exploration resulted in the naming, surveying and mapping of peaks, and contributed to an understanding of human response at high altitudes in terms of physical and mental endurance of extreme conditions. Many personal papers include descriptions and correspondence regarding the political nature of expeditions that ventured into areas that were generally "closed" to Americans, or that were far beyond typical tourist destinations. Mountaineering clothing and equipment was designed for these expeditions as well, leading the way for use not only in mountain climbing but in other survival situations, such as war.
The AAC membership represents some of the most adventurous and dedicated Americans of the 20th and 21st century, with unexpected connections to America's most significant institutions. Institutional records include minutes, financial records, correspondence (both personal and official), committee files, publications, clippings, membership applications, expedition reports, photographs, audio and video recordings, scrapbooks and ephemera. There are approximately 150 separate collections of personal papers donated by AAC members and noted mountaineers which include letters, manuscripts, journals, scrapbooks, photographic materials, and ephemera. The archive also includes vertical files with a date range of 1902 to the present, including clippings, catalogs, pamphlets, maps and ephemera.