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Unstable Sources: New Approaches to Historical Methodology Just Say "No" to Google: Finding Archives and Manuscript Collections on the Web Susan Hamburger, Ph.D. Connecting Historians with Online Resources Daniel C. Mack, MLS, MA Penn State University Libraries January 5, 2007.

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Unstable Sources:

New Approaches to

Historical Methodology

Just Say "No" to Google: Finding Archives and Manuscript Collections on the WebSusan Hamburger, Ph.D.

Connecting Historians with Online Resources

Daniel C. Mack, MLS, MA

Penn State University Libraries

January 5, 2007

Importance of knowing online resources
Importance of knowing online resources

  • Access: always something new

    • Digitization of primary sources increasing exponentially

    • Increasingly multi-platform

  • Ubiquity: widely available from any location

  • Familiarity to students

    • Increasingly familiar with online sources

    • Technology used in their daily life

Online collections by subject area or period
Online collections by subject, area, or period

  • Primary sources and archival materials

  • Secondary sources

  • Links to other collections and associations

  • There is no “one-stop shopping” for online historical sources

  • Google doesn’t have access to and can’t search many of these resources

National databases u s
National Databases - U.S.

  • WorldCat (OCLC--Online Computer Library Center)

    This site-licensed database offers advanced searching that can limit to Type (archival materials) to retrieve catalog records for manuscript and archival collections. Single item manuscripts are generally coded in the Books format.

National databases u s1
National Databases - U.S.

  • NUCMC/RLIN AMC File Search Form offers free access to the RLG Union Catalog Archival and Mixed Collections files


National databases u s2
National Databases - U.S.

  • ArchivesUSA

    This site-licensed database provides keyword and subject searching, limitable by time period and specific resource, of 160,792collection records, over 6,000 links to online finding aids, and more than 106,748 NUCMC records:

    • National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC, 1959-present)

    • 1988 Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the United States (DAMRUS) of 5,596 U.S. manuscript repositories

    • National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States (NIDS, an index to more than 62,009 manuscript finding aids available in microfiche)

      • Federal records, Part 1

      • Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, Part 2

      • State libraries, state archives, and state historical societies , Part 3

      • Academic and research libraries and other repositories, Part 4

National directory u k
National Directory – U.K.

  • ARCHON Directory includes contact details for record repositories in the United Kingdom and also for institutions elsewhere in the world which have substantial collections of manuscripts noted under the indexes to the National Register of Archives.

National databases u s3
National Databases - U.S.

  • National Archives and Records Administration

    <http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/basic_ search.jsp>

    The online catalog of NARA's holdings in the Washington, D.C. area, regional archives, and presidential libraries; offers searching by keyword, limit by digital copy availability, dates, locations of materials, and type.

National databases canada
National Databases - Canada

  • CAIN: Canadian Archival Information Network<http://www.cain-rcia.ca/>

    Allows viewers to search archival holdings in more than eight hundred publicly-accessible Canadian repositories. The site offers links to provincial archival networks (organizations) and online archival exhibits.

National databases u k
National Databases – U.K.

  • National Register of Archives (U.K.)


    The NRA contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history. The National Archives, which covers England, Wales and the United Kingdom, was formed in April 2003 by bringing together the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission.

    • Access to Archives (A2A) database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.

National databases u k1
National Databases – U.K.

  • Archives HUB


    National gateway to descriptions of archives in UK universities and colleges, provided by the University Manchester.

National databases australia
National Databases - Australia

  • Register of Australian Archives and Manuscripts (RAAM)


    This database contains records describing non-government archives held in Australian archival repositories and libraries.

National databases new zealand
National Databases - New Zealand

  • New Zealand National Register of Archives and Manuscripts /Te Raarangi Puuranga, Tuhinga Ake o te Motu (NRAM) <http://www.nram.org.nz/>

    A cooperative effort of several New Zealand library and archival groups, NRAM includes archival collections held in museums, local government bodies, libraries, historical societies, community repositories, and in-house business, educational, religious and sporting archives throughout New Zealand.

Manuscript repositories
Manuscript Repositories

  • Repositories of Primary Resources (University of Idaho)


    This site provides links to over 5,000 Web sites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary resources for the research scholar; it is the most comprehensive in existence. The site is arranged by geographical area, and includes links to archives and libraries throughout the United States and the world. In addition, there are links to other indices of special collections and archival sites.

Manuscript repositories1
Manuscript Repositories

  • Ready, 'Net, Go! Resources for Archives (Tulane University)


    This service is an archival "meta index," or index of archival indexes. That is, from here they refer you to the major indexes, lists, and databases of archival resources. From them you can link to every archives and archival resource in the metaverse.

Finding aids online
Finding Aids Online

  • RLG's ArchiveGrid (formerly Archival Resources)

    This site-licensed database offers centralized access for searching and retrieving archival finding aids plus access to Research Libraries Group's Archival and Mixed Collections file of catalog records.

Finding aids online1
Finding Aids Online


  • Online Archive of California


    Contains historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies, and archives. Over 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters, and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections are available.

  • Virginia Heritage--Guides to Manuscript and Archival Collections in Virginia<http://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaead/cgi-bin/eadform.pl>

    A union database of a small percentage of finding aids from twenty-one repositories.

Digital projects
Digital Projects

  • Valley of the Shadow; Two Communities in the American Civil War


    A Web project documenting the communities of Augusta County, Va. and Franklin County, Pa. on the eve of the Civil War through Reconstruction, Fall 1859 through Fall 1870.

Digital projects1
Digital Projects

  • Library of Congress

    American Memory Project


    This site contains historical collections for the National Digital Library.

Panoramic photograph of a flood in pittsburgh
Panoramic photograph of a flood in Pittsburgh

General historical online resources
General Historical Online Resources

  • American National Biography online

    Site-licensed database includes the contents of the Oxford Companion to United States History Encyclopedia

    • Search by keyword, name, sex, occupations and realms of renown, birth and death dates, birthplace, contributor, and date of publication

    • Entries include locations of personal papers

General historical online resources1
General Historical Online Resources

  • Historic Documents Series online

    Site-licensed. Published annually since 1972, the series now contains 33 volumes of primary sources.

    • Search by keyword, browse by title, browse by topic, and cumulative index to link from the page number listed to the exact section of the document.

Google scholar scholar google com
Google Scholarscholar.google.com

  • Google’s efforts to index scholarly literature

  • Search techniques and limitations unique to Google Scholar

    • Single search engine

    • Indexes peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and other scholarly resources

    • Complements, but does not replace, traditional research databases

Special historical online resources
Special Historical Online Resources

  • Network Subject Gateways History


    Subject gateway to scholarly relevant Web sites in history

Etana electronic tools and ancient near eastern archives http wwww etana org
Etana: Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives: http://wwww.etana.org/

  • Cooperative venture of a consortium of scholarly societies and universities to develop and maintain a comprehensive Internet site for the study of the ancient Near East (ANE).

  • Academic, library and technical staff of the partner organizations will collaborate to share intellectual and technical resources in the development of the project.

  • Partners:

    • The American Oriental Society [AOS]

    • The American Schools of Oriental Research [ASOR]

    • Case Western Reserve University Library [CWRU]

    • The Cobb Institute of Archaeology at Mississippi State University

    • The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago [OI]

    • The Society of Biblical Literature [SBL]

    • The Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

    • Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion

    • Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations at Binghamton University: fbc.binghamton.edu

  • The Fernand Braudel Center was founded in September 1976 to engage in the analysis of large-scale social change over long periods of historical time.

  • Active Research Working Groups include:

    • Cultural Forms in the Modern World-System

    • Built Environments of Atlantic Slavery

    • Crisis in the World-System: Options and Possibilities

    • Categories of Social Knowledge

    • Structural Trends of the Capitalist World-Economy

Digital projects2
Digital Projects

  • RLG Cultural Materials

    Site-licensed database of collections of visual image material culture from U.S. and international libraries, museums, and archives.

  • Trove.net (free version)


Special historical online resources art related
Special Historical Online Resources: Art-related

  • Archives of American Art


    Collections Online <http://www.aaa.si.edu/collectionsonline/>

    Since 1954, the Archives has collected roughly 16 million letters, photographs, diaries, sketches, scrapbooks, business records, and other documentation that supports the study of the history of the visual arts in America.

Special historical online resources images
Special Historical Online Resources: Images

  • ArtSTOR


    • A repository of hundreds of thousands of digital images and related data

    • Licensed to non-profit institutions

Special historical online resources architecture
Special Historical Online Resources: Architecture

  • Structurae


    Information on works of structural engineering, architecture or construction through time, history and from around the world. The documentation begins at the time of the pyramids in Egypt and Roman construction, continues to Romanesque and Gothic churches and through to the Industrial Revolution all the way to today and beyond. Structurae deals mostly with bridges, tunnels, dams, skyscrapers, stadiums, towers, etc.

Special historical online resources agriculture
Special Historical Online Resources: Agriculture

  • Forest History Society Research Resources


    Oral history program, unique descriptive electronic databases, and extensive archival, library, and photographic collections that document the myriad relationships that have existed between people, forests, and natural resources throughout history.

Special historical online resources gov t docs
Special Historical Online Resources: Gov’t. Docs

  • National Security Archive: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources


    The most comprehensive on-line collection to date of declassified U.S. government documents on the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific.

Special historical online resources oral history
Special Historical Online Resources: Oral History

  • Oral History Online



    Fee-based. Contains in-depth indexing to more than 2,700 oral history collections, with keyword searching of over 287,000 pages of full-text. It also contains pointers to over 4,300 audio and video files and almost 19,000 bibliographic records.

Special historical online resources oral history1
Special Historical Online Resources: Oral History

  • In the First Person <http://www.inthefirstperson.com/firp/


    Free version of Oral History Online provides access to an in-depth index of more than 3,350 collections of letters, diaries, oral histories, and personal narratives in English from around the world.

Special historical online resources immigration
Special Historical Online Resources: Immigration

  • North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories



    Fee-based. Mostly previously unpublished personal views of immigration to the U.S. and Canada, 1800-1950, emphasizing the 1840s and 1890-1914.

Special historical online resources women
Special Historical Online Resources: Women

  • North American Women's Letters and Diaries, Colonial to 1950



    Fee-based. The immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of published letters and diaries from individuals including more than 6,000 pages of previously unpublished materials. Drawn from more than 600 sources, including journal articles, pamphlets, newsletters, monographs, and conference proceedings. 22 search option categories.

Special historical online resources civil rights
Special Historical Online Resources: Civil Rights

  • Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive


    Text and audiovisual searchable database of 709 digital images plus 144 oral histories and 16 manuscript and photograph collections on race relations in Mississippi.

Special historical online resources census
Special Historical Online Resources: Census

  • Historical Census Browser


    • Examine state and county topics for individual census years, 1790-1960

      • examine multiple topics within a census year

      • produce tables of data by state or county

      • sort data by selected categories

      • create ratios between any two data categories

    • Examine state and county topics over time

      • examine a topic across multiple census years

      • produce tables of data by state or county

        For General Population, Education & Literacy, Economy/Manufacturing/Employment, Ethnicity/Race/Place of Birth, Agriculture, Slave Population

    • Generate maps of selected data

Special historical online resources black history
Special Historical Online Resources: Black History

  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture


    The manuscripts and archival collections are strongest for the 20th century in performing arts, women, Harlem, African American writers, civil rights organizations and activities, manuscripts and research files of historians and other scholars, papers and records of individuals and organizations documenting radical political movements, religion, and eighteenth and nineteenth century Haitian history. Geographic concentration is primarily in the United States.

Catalogs of libraries and consortia
Catalogs of libraries and consortia

  • Library of Congress

  • Bibliothèque Nationale de France

  • British Library

  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation

Virtual electronic library vel of the committee on institutional cooperation cic
Virtual Electronic Library (VEL) of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)

Secondary literature online
Secondary literature online

  • Historical Abstracts

  • America: History and Life

  • Année philologique

  • Open access journals

Open access journals
Open access journals

  • Crisis in scholarly communication and journal costs

  • Directory of Open Access Journals: http://www.doaj.org/

  • Funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access.

  • Increase visibility and ease of use of open access scholarly journals to promote their increased use and impact.

  • One- stop shop for open access journals.

  • Journals must exercise peer-review or editorial quality control to be included.

Open access journals in history currently carries 92 titles
Open access journals in history:currently carries 92 titles

Professional organizations
Professional organizations

  • American Historical Association: http://www.historians.org/

  • The Historical Society: http://www.bu.edu/historic/

  • Organization of American Historians: http://www.oah.org/

  • Southern Historical Association: http://www.uga.edu/~sha

  • Southern Association for Women Historians:


Other academic resources
Other academic resources

  • American Association of University Professors (AAUP): www.aaup.org/aaup

  • Chronicle of Higher Education: chronicle.com/ (online edition free to print subscribers)

  • H-Net discussion lists: http://www.h-net.org/lists/

  • Your institution’s archivist and/or subject librarian

Pedagogic uses of online resources
Pedagogic uses of online resources

  • Online course management systems

  • Web-based instruction

  • Audiovisual and other materials for in-class use

  • Evaluation of sources

  • Citation and plagiarism issues

Sample teaching resources
Sample Teaching Resources

  • Center for History and New Media http://chnm.gmu.edu

    Since 1994,CHNM combines cutting edge digital media with the latest and best historical scholarship. Developed for historians and teachers:

    • Online databases and other resources

    • Free digital tools (Web Scrapbook, Survey Builder, Scribe, Poll Builder, and Syllabus Finder)

  • History Matters http://historymatters.gmu.edu/

    Gateway to Web resources and offers other useful materials for teaching U.S. history. Includes 998 primary documents, images, and audio interviews.

    • WWW.History http://historymatters.gmu.edu/browse/wwwhistory/

      Annotated guide to the most useful websites for teaching U.S. history and social studies.

Conclusion historical resources on the web
Conclusion: historical resources on the Web

  • Primary sources

    • Archives

    • Repositories

    • Digital projects

  • Secondary sources

    • Library catalogs

    • Online books

    • Journals, proceedings, and other research

Conclusion historical resources on the web1
Conclusion: historical resources on the Web

  • Professional and academic resources

    • Pedagogical resources

    • Professional organizations

    • Communications tools

    • Discussion lists

    • Online directories

  • Always ask a librarian or archivist

Questions or comments contact us
Questions or comments?Contact us:

Susan Hamburger, Ph. D.

Manuscripts Cataloging Librarian

The Pennsylvania State University


Daniel C. Mack, MLS, MA

Head, Arts and Humanities Library

The Pennsylvania State University