Archival Research Tutorial
General Historical Collections
America's Historical Newspapers (1690-1876) Digitized historic newspapers. Check geographic coverage under places of publication.
American Periodicals Series: (1740-1900) Digitized American magazines and journals.
American Memory Project More than 9 million digitized items from the Library of Congress.
Avalon Project documents in law, history and diplomacy at Yale Law School Library.
Making of America a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction at the University of Michigan.
Here is a list of newspapers, historical and current, on microfilm at Valley Library.
Search these full-text databases for historical news:
American Periodicals Series a database of magazines and newspapers from 1740-1900. This unique and valuable collection contains digitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals that originated between 1741-1900, when Andrew Bradford's American Magazine and Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine were launched. Deriving from the acclaimed American Periodicals Series microform collection, APS Online features over 1,100 periodicals spanning nearly 200 years-from colonial times to the advent of American involvement in World War II. Titles range from America's first scientific journal, Medical Repository, to popular magazines like Vanity Fair and Ladies' Home Journal.
America's Historical Newspapers a database of newspapers from 1690-1876. Also known as Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876. This historical collection contains hundreds of historic newspapers listed in Clarence Brigham's authoritative bibliography and in additional subsequent bibliographies.
Here is a list of historical Oregon newspapers in microfilm on the 3rd floor of The Valley Library.
For locating historical citations from newspapers, you can try Google News Archive. After identifying citations, check if OSU Libraries holds the newspaper and if we don't, request it from interlibrary loan.
Photo courtesy of Pingu1963.
Historical Newspapers on Microfilm
You can also search for some archival articles from The New York Times at their site. Create your free personal account first.
Using Microforms: a Tutorial
Using the microform machines can be a fun, challenging, and unique experience! And probably unlike anything else you will do in your research adventure.
We have 6 machines, all found on the 3rd floor of The Valley Library. Three of the machines offer a scanning option, and one is coin operated.
Library staff will be happy to help you. If you wish go it alone, we have created a tutorial in Flickr:
There are also instructions posted next to each machine and on the Archives' Microform Guidance page.
How to Cite Archival Materials
Archival materials such as manuscripts, photographs, departmental papers, oral histories, and diaries are unique items that often require complex citations. When citing archival resources, keep these points in mind:
- Unlike the books and journals in a library, most archival materials are one of a kind. Thus, citations should not only identify the source, but also the repository where the source is located.
- Collection title and any collection call numbers should always be included in the citation.
- Archival collections can consist of hundreds of boxes worth of materials, so make sure that you always include specific information about the portion of the collection you are referring to, including information about the the page, date, or filing unit (box/folder) in which the item is found.
- Individual archival repositories often have different methods of organizing their records; therefore, having a consistent rule for all archival citations is not necessarily possible. If you are unsure about the structure of your citation, remember that its purpose is to guide the reader to your source: providing more information is always better than not enough. Never hesitate to ask the Archivist, a librarian, or your professor for assistance.
What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are materials produced by participants or observers at the time of an event or during a particular span of years. They are "original" in that the recording of the event or experience originates with the participants or direct observers. Some examples of primary sources are:
- Diaries, journals, memoirs, letters, autobiographies
- Official documents or records from government or private organizations (minutes, reports, etc.)
- Books, magazines, and newspapers produced at the time of the event
- Court decisions, transcripts, and other legal papers
- Research data (reports, market surveys, public opinion polls, statistics)
- Films, photographs, paintings, video recordings
- Novels, poetry, and plays
Archives@OSU: What Will You Find Here?
The Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC) is home to the university’s unique collections of manuscripts, archives, photographs, and books. We collect in five main areas: the History of OSU, the History of Science, Natural Resources, Multiculturalism in Oregon and Rare Books. We also administer the university's Records Management Program. For more on what we do, please see our mission statement.
Unique at OSU: Digital Resources
Online information seekers have access to more than just OSU’s collections of digitized documents, photographs, maps, and data... Since the early 1990s, the Special Collections & Archives Research Center has sought to digitize its materials and offer them for all to see online! The product of this work is available through our six digital resource portals, which are grouped thematically to provide quick access to tens of thousands of photographs, manuscripts, and interpretive texts.
This digital service of the OSU Libraries provides a permanent means for faculty members to store their research and teaching output, for students to do the same with their research, to make the information widely available and for the institution to maintain its historical record.
The NWDA provides enhanced access to archival and manuscript collections in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington through a union database of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids.
Archives Outside OSU
This is a service provided by RLG, a non-profit organization of libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions. It is a centralized index to archival collections located throughout the world and is a valuable resource for locating records in other archives.
WorldCat is a global network of libraries that unite their collections in one master catalog. It is a union catalog of over 49 million records representing books, journals, dissertations, audio-visual materials, and manuscripts in repositories worldwide.
There are lots of primary source materials in libraries around the country; this catalog holds a growing number of more than 6,000 links to online finding aids. Included in their genealogy search are books, ship passenger lists, historical society records, archival photos, articles on research techniques, family histories, and digital image collections.
The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections is a print and online catalog of manuscript collections held in US repositories. The Library of Congress provides a Web interface for searching archival and manuscript cataloging in OCLC WorldCat.
- This service is provided free-of-charge.
National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States (NIDS)
By bringing together thousands of finding aids from libraries and archives across the United States and reproducing them on microfiche with a unified index, NIDS gives users unparalleled access to federal, state, academic and other documentary sources. In allowing researchers to examine actual finding aids, NIDS goes further than either NUCMC or RLIN which offer collection-level descriptions, but do not contain detailed listings of the contents of collections.
- This service is fee-based.
This is a current directory of over 5,500 repositories and more than 161,000 collections of primary source material across the United States. NUCMUC & NIDS were folded into this database.
Using ArchivesUSA, researchers are able to read descriptions of a repository's holdings to determine whether a collection contains material useful to their work as well as find the information they need to contact the repository directly. Repository records provide detailed information including phone and fax numbers, hours of service, materials solicited, email and home page URLs when available. Each collection record links to its corresponding repository record, simplifying the research process.
- This service is fee-based.
This is a listing of over 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar. Includes international archives.
The UNESCO Archives Portal gives access to websites of archival institutions around the world. It is also a gateway to resources related to records and archives management and to international co-operation in this area.
Historical Magazine Articles Online
Historical magazines are great primary sources. Use this database to find online articles.
American Periodicals Series, 1740-1900
- 2 word queries (such as circus elephant) are searched as an exact phrase by default.
- 3 word queries (such as new york orchestra) are searched as words that need to appear in proximity to each other by default