Hege Library & Learning Technologies

History

Finding Archives

Locating North Carolina Special Collections - NC-ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online)

Finding other special collections - Repositories of Primary Resources

ArchiveGrid via NCLive (see also Databases by Subject - History)
ArchiveGrid is an important destination for searching for historical documents, personal papers and family histories held in archives throughout the world. ArchiveGrid is an online service that provides access to detailed archival collection descriptions. It includes nearly a million descriptions of archival collections held by thousands of libraries, museums, historical societies and archives worldwide.

    Finding Primary Sources

    Primary sources are original materials created in or near the time period or event, or by the person or entity, being studied. They are the evidence used to support scholarly work, offering the closest possible view of historical subjects.

    News articles, books, diaries, photographs, maps, government documents, photographs, artifacts, genealogical records, advertisements, statistics, and many other source types offer the researcer a first-hand look at historical events, individuals, places, daily life, politics, and much more. 

    Primary sources are accessible through library databases, a large and growing number of digitized online collections, and the physical collections of libraries, archives, special collections, museums, and historical societies. This guide from the American Library Association is a great overview of finding, evaluating, and even citing primary resources found on the Internet.

    Library Databases

    Library Databases

    Online Resources

    Library Databases

    Online Resources

    Library Databases

    Online Resources

    Library Databases

    Online Resources

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    Finding Published Primary Sources in Print

    Use the library's catalog to locate print sources such as published letters or diaries. These sources will often be shelved along with secondary sources in the main part of the library. Key terms to use in searching to limit the search to primary documents include "correspondence" and "diaries." 

    Selected Examples:

    • Title: Kamikaze diaries : reflections of Japanese student soldiers / Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney.
      Call Number: D792.J3 O265 2006
    • Title: African-American exploration in West Africa : four nineteenth-century diaries
      Call Number: DT634 .A37 200
    • Title: The selected papers of Margaret Sanger / edited by Esther Katz ; assistant editors, Cathy Moran Hajo and Peter C. Engelman.
      Call Number: HQ764.S3 A25 2003

    These same search methods can also be used through Guilford library's catalog to expand your search to additional publications which may be available to you through Interlibrary Loan. Limit to the book format to locate items more likely to be available to you or leave the format open to also include listings for manuscript collections with more restricted use.

    Finding Primary Sources Online

    Large searchable sites including freely available online resources from a variety of collections.

    • OAIster
      Materials (including primary sources) that libraries have digitized and made available online.
    • Internet Archive
      More than 300,000 texts, as well as audio, moving images, software and archived web pages.
    • Archives Portal Europe
      Access to information on archival material from different European countries as well as information on archival institutions throughout the continent.
    • Europeana 
      Provides access to 6 million digital items, including books, art work, photographs, newspapers, films and other cultural objects from European museums, galleries, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections including the Bibliotheque Nationale, the British Library, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.
    • American Memory
      Provides information on, and access to, digitized versions of primary-source collections on American history and culture, including photographs, documents, sound recordings, and motion pictures.
    • Digital Public Library of America
      Search millions of photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. Each record links to the original object on the content provider's website.

    Example Full-Text Subscription Databases with Primary Sources Available to Guilford students:

     
    Full Text African-American Newspapers : the 19th Century 
    Provides full text of the entire collection of five African-American newspapers published in the 19th century.
    Full Text America's Historical Newspapers via NewsBank
    Early American Newspapers features cover-to-cover reproductions of hundreds of historic newspapers, providing more than one million pages as fully text-searchable facsimile images. For students and scholars of early America, this unique collection -- based largely on Clarence Brigham's "History and Bibliography of American Newspapers,1690-1820" -- offers an unprecedented look back into the extraordinary history of the United States -- the story of its people, ideals, commerce and everyday life.
       
    Indexes and Abstracts European Views of the Americas: 1493-1750 via Ebscohost
    The database contains more than 32,000 entries and is a comprehensive guide to printed records about the Americas written in Europe before 1750. It covers the history of European exploration as well as portrayals of native American peoples. A wide range of subject areas are covered; from natural disasters to disease outbreaks and slavery. The original bibliography was co-developed by John Alden and Dennis Landis, Curator of European Books at The John Carter Brown Library. The John Carter Brown Library, founded in 1846, is a foremost repository of rare books and materials and is a center for advanced research in history and the humanities.
       
    Full Text Historical Statistics of the United States 
    The standard source for the quantitative facts of American history. Downloadable and customizable to suit individual areas of interest. Includes statistics from over 1000 sources last updated in the distant 1975.
    Full Text New York Times Historical Newspaper via ProQuest Company
    This database offers nearly three million pages of digitized full-text and full-image newspaper articles covering the entire publishing history of the newspaper, from 1851 to 2007. The full-text articles can be viewed in its original context. Researchers can locate news stories, editorials, photos, graphics, and advertisements. Also, researchers can use basic keyword, advanced, guided, and relevancy search techniques to pinpoint the information they are seeking. They can browse through issues page by page, as one would browse a printed edition. Search results lists provide bibliographic information, including date, issue, article headline, page number, and byline (where given).
    Indexes and Abstracts Sanborn Maps North Carolina via NCLive
    Sanborn Maps for the state of North Carolina provides digital access to 11,173 large-scale maps of 158 North Carolina towns and cities. Users have the ability to easily manipulate the maps, magnify and zoom in on specific sections, and compare maps from different years.
    Full Text Wall Street Journal Historical Newspaper via ProQuest Company
    This database provides full-text articles from the world's leading financial newspaper dating back to 1889 to1993. The database contains more than half a million pages and more than five million articles that can be viewed in its original context. Researchers can locate news stories, editorials, photos, graphics, and advertisements. Also, researchers can use basic keyword, advanced, guided, and relevancy search techniques to pinpoint the information they are seeking. They can browse through issues page by page, as one would browse a printed edition. Search results lists provide bibliographic information, including date, issue, article headline, page number, and author name (where given).
     

    [Go to Databases (Alphabetical) for direct links and a full list of online databases at Guilford]

     

    Subject Based Open Access Sites:

    Digital Library on American Slavery 
    The Digital Library offers a searchable database of detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color. Designed as a tool for scholars, historians, teachers, students, genealogists, and interested citizens, the site provides access to information gathered and analyzed over an eighteen-year period from petitions to southern legislatures and country courts filed between 1775 and 1867 in the fifteen slaveholding states in the United States and the District of Columbia.

    Prague Spring Archives
    Partnership between the University of Texas at Austin Libraries, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, and the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies to digitize archival materials from the LBJ Presidential Archive’s collections and make them accessible.