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History Research Guide

Finding Secondary Sources


  • Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)
    "Academic Search Elite offers full text for more than 2,000 serials, including more than 1,500 peer-reviewed titles. This multi-disciplinary database covers virtually every area of academic study. More than 100 journals have PDF images back to 1985. This database is updated on a daily basis via EBSCOhost." (from website)
  • America: History and Life (EBSCO)
    An index with abstracts, may lead to full-text, All scholarly. Advanced search easily allows one to limit by time period, browse subject headings, and select the language of the article. American history only.
  • Humanities Full-Text (EBSCO)
    Includes full text of social history. Good source for examining how various topics have been presented in literature throughout history as well as locating social history topics.
  • Humanities Index International (EBSCO)
    "Humanities International Index is a comprehensive database covering journals, books and other important reference sources in the humanities. Produced by Whitston Publishing (an imprint of EBSCO Publishing), Humanities International Index provides cover-to-cover indexing and abstracting for over 2,000 titles and contains more than 2 million records." (from website)
  • J-STOR
    All full-text and scholarly articles. Presents the back-files or the complete run of important journals up to a relatively recent embargo date. No controlled vocabulary or subject headings used. May limit keyword search to abstract, title, full-text. This database is complemented well by the ProjectMuse journals. Please view this tutorial for guidance in searching within JSTOR.
  • Master File Premier (EBSCO)
    "Designed specifically for public libraries, this multidisciplinary database provides full text for more than 1,700 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975. Covering virtually every subject area of general interest, MasterFILE Premier also includes nearly 500 full text reference books, 84,774 biographies, 100,554 primary source documents, and an Image Collection of 202,164 photos, maps and flags. This database is updated daily via EBSCOhost." (from website)
  • Periodicals Index Online
    Periodicals Index Online is a database of millions of citations for articles published in the arts, humanities and social sciences, across more than 300 years.

Biographical Entries

  • American National Biography
    "...offers portraits of more than 18,700 men & women — from all eras and walks of life — whose lives have shaped the nation. The American National Biography is the first biographical resource of this scope to be published in more than sixty years"-American National Biography website.
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005 REF JK1010 .A525 2005
  • Biography & Genealogy Master Index (Gale)
    Contains references to biographical content in other resources.  NO BIOGRAPHIES ACTUALLY CONTAINED WITHIN THIS DATABASE.  Covers a suprising breadth of access to lesser known people.
  • Gale Biography in Context
    Searchable database, providing access to actual biographical content, more limited in scope than Biography & Genealogy Index.


Historiographies can be found in both book/monograph and article form. 

  1. IUCAT or WorldCat search.  Go to Advanced Search and in the Subject field type in historiography.  Add the appropriate keywords for your topic and click search.  Example:                                                                  
  2. Within an article indexing database such as America History and Life or Master File Premier, simply include historiography in your keyword search.  Ex: immigration and united states and historiography

Finding Primary Resources

Reprinted Primary Resources

Digital Versions of Primary Resources

  • AmDocs: Documents for the Study of American History
    A section of the WWW Virtual Library. A chronological listing of primary documents and maps related to American History.
  • American Memory Project-Library of Congress
    Housing more than 7 million digitized items, this collection contains items relating to U.S. history, people, politics, and culture. Items include photographs, maps, illustrations, manuscripts, diaries, sheet music, motion pictures, and sound recordings.
  • American Periodicals Series Online (ProQuest) 
    Over 1,100 periodicals that first began publishing between 1740 and 1900, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, and many other historically-significant periodicals.
  • Amistad Digital Archive (Columbia University)
    While the educational guides on the site are geared towards a middle and high school audience the primary resources, including: photographs, audio, video, and documents, are of use to all research levels.
  • Black Thought & Culture (Alexander Street Press) When complete, Black Thought and Culture will provide approximately 100,000 pages of monographs, essays, articles, speeches, and interviews written by leaders within the black community from the earliest times to the present. The collection is intended for research in black studies, political science, American history, music, literature, and art. The collection begins with the works of Frederick Douglass and is targeted to include the works of W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Alain Locke, Mary McLeod Bethune, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Ralph Bunche, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Houston Baker, Jesse Jackson, Ida B. Wells, Bobby Seale, and many others.
  • Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress)
    "This site allows you to search and read newspaper pages from 1900-1910 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP)" - Chronicling America Homepage.
  • Discovering American Women's History: A Research Guide
    Women's history research guide page from Middle Tennessee State University. Features digital collections of primary sources, as well as tools for finding primary resources.
  • Documenting the American South
    "Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes ten thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs." (from website)
  • Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans 1639-1800
    "Based on Charles Evans' American Bibliography this database lists books published in 17th- and 18th-century America and links to images of the books themselves." -University of Virginia Libraries
  • Early Encounters in North America: Peoples, Cultures, and the Environment
    "This release of Early Encounters in North America contains 1,482 authors and over 100,000 pages of letters, diaries, memoirs and accounts of early encounters. Particular care has been taken to index the material so that it can be used in new ways." (from website)
  • The Economist Historical Archive 1843-2006  (Gale)
    The Economist Historical Archive 1843-2006 ('EHA') is the fully searchable complete facsimile edition of The Economist, the weekly paper which is essential reading for anyone engaged in politics, current affairs and all aspects of business and trade worldwide. In 8,000 issues and more than 600,000 pages, EHA offers full-colour images, multiple search indexes, topic and area supplements and surveys, together with a gallery of front covers and a selection of exportable financial tables. Altogether this is an unrivalled multidisciplinary primary source for researching and teaching the 19th and 20th centuries. 
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online  (Gale)
    Use Eighteenth Century Collections Online to access the digital images of every page of books published during the 18th Century. With full-text searching of millions of pages, the product allows researchers new methods of access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.
  • Historical New York Times  Searchable online database which houses a digitized version of New York Times back to mid 1800's.
  • Historical Statistics of the United States
    "Contains quantitative historical information covering virtually every quantifiable dimension of American history: population, work and welfare, economic structure and performance, governance, and international relations, all from the earliest times to the present. Users will be able to graph individual tables or to combine data from different tables into "custom tables" and to download tables for use in spreadsheets and other applications."--Cambridge University Press website
  • Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930, is a web-based collection of historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression. Concentrating heavily on the 19th century, Immigration to the US includes over 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 books, pamphlets, and serials, over 9,600 pages from manuscript and archival collections, and more than 7,800 photographs. By incorporating diaries, biographies, and other writings capturing diverse experiences, the collected material provides a window into the lives of ordinary immigrants.
  • In the First Person An index to letters, diaries, oral histories and personal narratives.
  • Indiana History Online (via Gale)
    Indiana History Online is an online resource comprised of a total of 351 works. Among these tens of thousands of pages readers will find not only the more general historical facts on the people, events, and places that made Indiana the state it is today, but also the detailed, lesser-known aspects of the Hoosier state. Many of the documents here are not readily available anywhere else, and whether student or scholar, the database has user-friendly search features that simplify your research. (from website)
  • IUPUI University Library Digital Collections
    Primarly focusing on Indianapolis history but spanning to all of Indiana the collections include early Indianapolis maps, the full run of The Indianapolis Recorder, early issues of Indianapolis newspapers, images from Indianapolis neighborhoods, civil war telegraph books, German Americana, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and more.
  • Making of America by University of Michigan and Cornell University
    A digital library of primary sources in American social history primarily from the antebellum period through reconstruction. These collections are particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.
  • New York Public Library Digital Library Collection
    Gateway to the New York Public Library's (NYPL) "rare and unique" (from the website) online digital collections. Includes searchable databases, online exhibitions, and digital texts.
  • Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers (Gale)
    With digital facsimile images of both full pages and clipped articles for hundreds of 19th century U.S. newspapers and advanced searching capabilities, researchers will be able to research history in ways previously unavailable. For each issue, the newspaper is captured from cover-to-cover, providing access to every article, advertisement and illustration.
  • North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories
    "Includes 2,162 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of information, so providing a unique and personal view of what it meant to immigrate to America and Canada between 1800 and 1950. Composed of contemporaneous letters and diaries, oral histories, interviews, and other personal narratives, the series provides a rich source for scholars in a wide range of disciplines." (from website)
  • North American Women's Letters and Diaries
    "Includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before." (from website)
  • Readers' Guide Retrospective (EBSCO) Readers' Guide Retrospective is a database containing comprehensive indexing of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States and reflects the history of 20th century America.
  • Time Magazine Archive
    A selection of Time Magazine full-text articles from 1923-present. Considered a popular resource, not a scholarly resource.
  • Sabin Americana, 1500-1926
    Based on Joseph Sabin's landmark bibliography, this collection contains works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's. Included are books, pamphlets, serials and other documents that provide original accounts of exploration, trade, colonialism, slavery and abolition, the western movement, Native Americans, military actions and much more. With over 6 million pages from 29,000 works, this collection is a cornerstone in the study of the western hemisphere.
  • Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive (Gale)
    Slavery and Anti-Slavery is a four-part collection devoted to the transatlantic history of slavery. It includes books, manuscripts, court records, and serials. The first part, Debates over Slavery and Abolition, documents the debates surrounding slavery and its abolition in the U.S. but also in the UK and other European countries, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Future parts are Slave Trade in the Atlantic World, Institution of Slavery, and Age of Emancipation. Once completed, it will include over 5 million pages.
  • Women and Social Movements in the United States (1600-2000) (Alexander Street Press) This Worldwide Web site is intended to serve as a resource for students and scholars of U.S. history and U.S. women's history. Organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1700 and 2000, the website seeks to advance scholarly debates and understanding at the same time that it makes the insights of women's history accessible to teachers and students at universities, colleges, and high schools.
  • Women' Working, 1800-1930
    "Focuses on women's role in the United States economy and provides access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University's library and museum collections. The collection features approximately 500,000 digitized pages and images"-collection's website.

 Finding Freely Availble Digital Collections 

Some of the collections of primary resources listed above are freely available resources, digitized and placed online for scholarly use by cultural institutions such as libraries, museums, and historical societies.  Many other collections of this nature exist and can be located through a simple Google search.  Search strategies for locating possible collections: 1) Try a simple keyword search (Ex. Indianapolis Sanborn maps) 2) Try searching for the museums and libraries geographically or topically related to your research project. (Ex. Indiana Historical Society)

A word of caution, If you are searching the open web for primary sources make sure you carefully evaluate the source and site.  Don’t just assume the digitized document is a quality resource.  Follow this link to a guide for determining quality and for proper citation of such sources