Historical primary sources online: Theme-based digital archives
Materials in archival collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; religion; occupation and economic status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation.
Successfully searching digital archives may require that you use search terms that match words used in the context, place, and time of their original writing or publication -- even if those historical words may disgust you.
Primary source collections vary a lot
The creators of digital collections don't follow many common rules about what they will include. Like conventional archivists, they must work within the limits of what sources are actually available, even though they -- and you -- may really want sources to fall into neat geographical or chronological packages. This page reflects the rough distinctions in use between archival collections that try to capture whole historical eras and those that organize sources by format, place, or theme. Use them as broad starting points. Then use the filters built into each database to locate sources that best fit your needs.
Cross-search within major providers' collections
All-at-once searching gives a good idea of what your search terms my pull up, but at the cost of giving you too much information to process at a sitting. Think of these tools as aids of planning where, how -- and when -- you'll search within each vendor's many offerings.
- AM Explorer from Adam Matthew DigitalCross-search all or selected Adam Matthew Digital primary source databases and access millions of digitized pages from a single search. (Advanced search.) Virginia Tech's set of AMD databases is one of the largest in the country. (View thematic and A-Z list of Tech's Adam Matthew databases.)
- Gale Primary SourcesGale Primary Sources portal searches books, manuscripts, periodicals, maps, and illustrations across Gale's British newspapers, Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Collections Online , the Sabin Americana, Making of the Modern World, Indigenous Peoples of North America , and Smithsonian collections. Plus, when you search inside any of the Gale Primary Source databases, you can cross-search the others with the press of a button.
- History databases from ProQuestThis platform permits cross-searching most ProQuest 's primary source databases,notably historical newspapers and other periodicals, US and UK foreign policy documents. Search includes historical videos in Academic Video Online from Alexander Street, a ProQuest affiliate, but no other Alexander Street history content. (See below.)
- Alexander StreetBest know for its historical video collections, Alexander Street also publishes mixed-media and text databases on themes including Disability in the Modern World and Women and Social Movements in the US.
- Advanced search is organized around disciplines, irrespective of database.
- To focus on particular collection, select the "hamburger stack icon to oipen a page banner, then select within the "My collections" dropdown menu.
- Readex AllSearch Search across all of our Readex primary-source content: American imprints, books, and historical newspapers, including sources documenting African-American experiences.
- HeinOnline The HeinOnline Portal permits cross-searching across a large and wide-ranging collection of primary and secondary sources in law and governance, historical and contemporary: topical collections of historical documents; legislative and administrative codes, government reports, treaties, constitutions, as well as a JSTOR-like archive of law reviews and legal treatises from the US, Canada, and the UK. Topical collections include Military and Government; Women and the Law; Pentagon Papers; Gun Regulation and Legislation in America; Slavery in America and the World, among others.
Help with historical methods
Collections broadly covering periods
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online from Gale ECCO provides full-text books, pamphlets, essays, broadsides, directories, Bibles, sheet music, sermons and advertisements in HTML and PDF. It delivers every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in Great Britain during the eighteenth century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas.
- Nineteenth Century Collections Online from Gale NCCO indexes the full text of books, newspapers, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, diaries, photographs, statistics, literature, government reports, treaties, and other kinds of documents in both Western and non-Western languages as HTML and PDF, plus some image formats. Subject areas include British politics and society, religion, education, international relations, economics, and English, French, and German literature. 1789-1914.
- C19 - Nineteenth Century Index C19 consolidates citations in finding aids to Anglo-American books, periodicals, and documents issued between the French Revolution and the end of World War I. Search in/across tens of millions of records compiled in several authoritative indexes to periodicals, book catalogs, and descriptions of archives and US and British government information. Many of the documents indexed in C19 are linked to the library's full-text ProQuest databases. Citations in C19 may help you search primary-source databases from other providers, locate print or microform resources in Newman Library, or make interlibrary loan requests. 1770-1919.
Place-centered collections: Americas
US (and UK) materials predominate in most topical primary-source collections listed in other boxes.
- Digital Public Library of America The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. DPLA is searchable and browseable by topic or collection. For coverage of US regions, see partners directory.
- American History, 1493-1945 from Adam Matthew Digital American History, 1493-1945, provides digitized primary sources from the earliest settlers to the end of World War II. Content includes correspondence, diaries, government documents, business records, books, pamphlets, newspapers, broadsides, photographs, artwork and maps, and manuscripts.
- American History in Video from Alexander Street Press American History in Video provides a large and rich collection of video available online for the study of American history. The collection allows students and researchers to analyze historical events, and their presentation over time, through commercial and governmental newsreels, archival footage, public affairs footage, and important documentaries. Videos cover the exploration period starting in 1492 through the late 20th century.
- Early American Sources Freely accessible portal to digital, print, and archival primary sources in the history of the Americas. Includes links free sources as well as to vendors' descriptions of proprietary databases that VT may or may not subscribe to. Somewhat idiosyncratic, but probably a good point of departure for non-US American history research
- Colonial America from Adam Matthew Digital Colonial America provides digitized primary sources from the British National Archives' Colonial Office files and related documents. Content includes manuscripts, correspondence, military records, charters, government records, legal cases, trade accounting, and maps. 1606-1822.
- American Journeys Contains more than 18,000 digitized pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD 1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later. Includes many digitized selections from the Draper Manuscripts collection of handwritten documents and news clippings pertaining to trans-Appalachian settlement in the 18th and early 19th centuries (which the VT libraries own in microfilm). From the library and archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
- American West from Adam Matthew Digital From early topographical sketches and pioneers’ accounts, to photographs of Buffalo Bill and his ‘Wild West’ stars, explore the fact and the fiction of westward expansion in America from the early eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Browse a wide range of rare and original documents including printed books, journals, historic maps, broadsides, periodicals, advertisements, photographs, artwork and more.
- Nixon Years, 1969-1974 from Adam Matthew Digital This collection provides documents from the UK's former Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO 7 and FCO 82) for the entire period of Richard Nixon's presidency.
Virginia and its region
- Virginia Memory from the Library of Virginia Part of the online presence of the Library of Virginia, the commonwealth's archives and reference library, Virginia Memory provides exhibitions and digitized collections of historical print materials, manuscripts, public records, Virginia newspapers, photographs and ephemera, maps and atlases, rare books, fine art, and a selective archive of state-related websites.
- Document Bank of Virginia Document Bank of Virginia (DBVa) is the Library of Virginia’s initiative to get primary sources about Virginia history documents into K-12 classrooms. Documents include narratives contextualizing them, instructional prompts, and relevant Virginia Standards of Learning. Searchable and browseable by era or theme.
- Digital Virginias Part of the Digitial Public Library of America, Digital Virginias offers easy access to digitized historical materials (mostly image-based) from Virginia and West Virginia. It offers a unique glimpse into the robust history of the area with topics that include race relations, architecture, arts, and American government. It is a partnership among Virginia Tech, George Mason University, University of Virginia, William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and West Virginia University.
- Southwest Virginia Digital Library Portal to cultural and historical heritage materials of Virginia Tech and the commonwealth. Includes digital archive of documents, local newspapers, and images from governments, businesses and museums.
- Mountain People: Life and Culture in Appalachia from Gale This collection consists of the diaries, journals, and narratives of explorers, emigrants, military men, Native Americans, and travelers. There are accounts on farming and mining communities, family histories, and folklore, providing a view of the region between Lexington, Kentucky and Winchester, Virginia, and from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Birmingham, Alabama, and the social, political, economic, scientific, religious, and agricultural characteristics of the region. 1700-1950.
- Virginia Company Archives from Adam Matthew Digital Virginia Company Archives provided digitized primary source documents from King James I chartered exploration and colonization company. Content included over 2000 Ferrar Papers business archives and related books on the history of the Virginia Company of London.
- Documenting the American South (DocSouth) A digital publishing initiative that provides online access to primary sources such as texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture. Currently DocSouth includes fourteen thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, maps, literary works, oral history interviews, and songs. 1500s-present.
Other American regions and countries
- Canadiana Digital portal comprises Early Canadiana Online (the most complete set of full-text historical content about Canada, including books, magazines and government documents, from early European settlement through the mid-20th century), Héritage (digitized microfim records concerning government documents, aboriginal history, military history, genealogy, and topical "landmark papers"), and the Public Collections portal to digital collections of libraries, archives, and museum across Canada.
- World Scholar: Latin America and the Caribbean Portal from Gale World Scholar provides digitized primary source documents, academic journals, reference works, maps and multimedia, and news articles on Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2023 it will be reoriented as a primary-source-only database and renamed Archives of Latin American and Caribbean History, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century.
- Digital Library of the Caribbean dLOC is a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. The dLOC partner institutions provide access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections.
- Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture from Gale This database provides full-text books, pamphlets, and other primary sources about the history and culture of Brazil, Portugal, and Spanish America. Topics include politics, literature, economics, indigenous peoples, religion, and geography. 1801-1983
Place-centered collections: Europe and UK
- Europeana Digital facsimiles of millions of items from a range of Europe's leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums, including books and manuscripts; photos and paintings; newspapers, television and film; sculpture and craft; diaries and maps, sheet music and recordings. Links to related sites for sharing and doing computational analyses of cultural heritage data.
- British Politics and Society from Gale Presents materials that enable in-depth examination and analysis of the growing calls for political reform in nineteenth century Britain that were met with state resistance and marked a crisis of legitimacy for both the government and the reform movements themselves. The documents in this archive consider these political issues in the form of personalities, events, and institutions. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- London Low Life from Adam Matthew Digital London Low Life is a full-text searchable resource, containing colour digital images of rare books, ephemera, maps and other materials relating to 18th, 19th and early 20th century London. It is designed for both teaching and study, from undergraduate to research students and beyond. In addition to the digital documents, London Low Life contains a wealth of secondary resources, including a chronology, interactive maps, essays, online galleries and links to other useful websites.
- Poverty, Philanthropy and Social Conditions in Victorian Britain from Adam Matthew Digital Poverty, Philanthropy and Social Conditions provides digitized correspondence of the Poor Law Commission, Poor Law Board and Local Government Board on life and conditions in work houses and and the administration of the new poor relief system. Topics covered include sanitation, housing, charities, education, race, immigration, political movements, and trade. 1800s-early 1900s.
- Mass Observation Online from Adam Matthew Mass Observation Online provides primary documents from the Mass Observation organization, formed by anthropologist Tom Harrison, filmmaker Humphrey Jennings, and poet Charles Madge, and collected from 1937 to the 1950s.
- Mass Observation Project The Mass Observation Project (MOP) is a unique national life-writing project that captures the experiences, thoughts and opinions of "everyday" people in 21st century Britain.
- Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957-1963 from Adam Matthew Digital Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957-1963 provides complete coverage of the Cabinet conclusions (minutes) (CAB 128) and memoranda (CAB 129) of Harold Macmillan’s government, plus selected minutes and memoranda of policy committees (CAB 134).
Place-centered collections: Asia and Africa
See also the "Colonization, globalization, international encounters" section.
- Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange from Gale A selection of records that constitute a political and social history of Western interaction with a number of Asian countries during the nineteenth century. US and British diplomatic documents, works of Christian missionaries, and socio-economic journals. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- China: Culture and Society from Adam Matthew Digital Spanning three centuries (c1750-1929), this resource makes available for the first time extremely rare pamphlets from Cornell University Library’s Charles W. Wason Collection on East Asia. The resource is full-text searchable, allowing for the collection to be comprehensively explored and studied. In addition, China: Culture and Society features a host of secondary resources, including scholarly essays, an interactive chronology, mini guides, and editors’ choices from the collection.
- China: Trade, Politics and Culture 1793-1980 from Adam Matthew Digital Sources from the School of Oriental and African Studies and the British Library, London: 1793-1980 With documents encompassing events from the earliest English embassy to the birth and early years of the People’s Republic, this resource collects sources from nine archives to give an incredible insight into the changes in China during this period.
- China, America and the Pacific from Adam Matthew Digital Explore an extensive range of archival material connected to the trading and cultural relationships that emerged between China, America and the Pacific region between the 18th and early 20th centuries. Manuscript sources, rare printed texts, visual images, objects and maps document this fascinating history.
- Meiji Japan from Adam Matthew Digital From the collection of Edward Sylvester Morse who preserved the household records of a samurai family and many accounts of the tea ceremony, Morse made notes on subjects as diverse as shop signs, fireworks, hairpins, agricultural tools, artists’ studios, music, games, printing, carpentry, the Ainu, gardens, household construction, art and architecture.
- Europe and Africa, Colonialism and Culture from Gale Monographs, manuscripts, and newspaper accounts covering key issues of economics, world politics, and international strategy in the European "Scramble for Africa" that began with the arrival of missionaries and explorers in sub-Saharan Africa in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
Colonization, globalization, international encounters
- Making of the Modern World from Gale The Making of the Modern World provides digital facsimile images of unique primary sources that track the development of the modern, western world through the lens of trade and wealth. Full-text searching across millions of pages of works from the period 1450-1914 provides researchers unparalleled access to this vast collection of material for research in the areas of history, political science, social conditions, technology and industry, economics, area studies, and more.
- Empire Online from Adam Matthew Digital This resource brings together manuscript, printed and visual primary source materials for the study of 'Empire' and its theories, practices and consequences. The materials span across the last five centuries and are accompanied by a host of secondary learning resources including scholarly essays, maps and an interactive chronology.
- Age of Exploration from Adam Matthew Age of Exploration provided digitized primary sources from the earliest voyages of Vasco de Gama, through the spice trade, colonization of the Americas and Australasia, the search for the Northwest and Northeast passages, and the race for the poles. Content includes manuscripts and early printed materials, maps, diaries, ships' logs, speeches, films, correspondence, and biographies.
- Migration to New Worlds from Adam Matthew Digital Migration to New Worlds provides primary documents on the movement of peoples from Europe and Asia to the Americas and Australasia, primarily covering the 1800s to 1924. Content includes newspapers and magazines, correspondence and personal accounts; shipping papers and ship plans; photos, postcards, and posters; financial reports and legal papers; manuscripts; and maps.
- Colonial State Papers from ProQuest Colonial State Papers provides over 7000 hand-written documents and over 40,000 citations for documents on British colonial relations in American, Canada, and the Caribbean.1573-1739.
- Frontier Life: Borderland and Colonial Encounters from Adam Matthew Digital Frontier Life provides digitized primary source documents that arose from European movements to Africa, Australasia, and North America. Topics covered include agriculture and business; family life and religion; indigenous peoples and the natural world; government, politics, law, and the military; health, medicine, technology, and industry; and exploration and travel. 1600s-1800s.
British foreign and colonial affairs
- Apartheid South Africa from Adam Matthew Digital Apartheid South Africa makes available British government files from the Foreign, Colonial, Dominion and Foreign and Commonwealth Offices spanning the period 1948 to 1980. These previously restricted letters, diplomatic dispatches, reports, trial papers, activists’ biographies and first-hand accounts of events give unprecedented access to the history of South Africa’s apartheid regime. The files explore the relationship of the international community with South Africa and chart increasing civil unrest against a backdrop of waning colonialism in Africa and mounting world condemnation.
- East India Company from Adam Matthew Digital East India Company provides digitized primary sources related to the company and its broad powers and privileges. Contents include charters, treaties, statutes, meeting minutes, correspondence, personnel lists, factory and trading post records, military documents, account books and ledgers, and diaries. 1600-1947.
- India, Raj & Empire from Adam Matthew Digital India, Raj & Empire provided digitized primary sources from National Library of Scotland on the history of South Asia between the foundation of the East India Company in 1615 and the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947. Content includes biographies, diaries, official and private papers, letters, sketches and paintings, and original Indian documents containing histories and literary works.
- Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1947-1980 Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan provides digitized primary source material on south Asia. Content includes government reports, diplomatic dispatches, correspondence, maps, photos, statistical tables, and political, economic, and military assessments. 1940s-1980s.
- Documents on British Policy Overseas from ProQuest This database provides primary sources from Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on diplomatic history from the 20th century. 1898-1990.
- Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 from Adam Matthew Digital Foreign Office Files for the Middle East provides digitized primary source material covering governance and conflict in the Middle East and surrounding countries. Content includes government reports, correspondence and diplomatic dispatches, personality profiles, political summaries, economic analyses, maps, newspaper cuttings, and other print materials.
- Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969 Confidential Print: Middle East provides digitized primary sources from the British National Archives collections of confidential correspondence from the Middle East, Turkey, and the former Ottoman Empire. Content includes reports, descriptions of leading personalities, political summaries, economic analyses, maps, and dispatches and letters.
- Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1980 from Adam Matthew Digital The six parts of this collection make available all British Foreign Office files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between 1919 and 1980. Due to the long-unique nature of the relationship between Britain and China, these formerly restricted British government documents, consisting of diplomatic dispatches, letters, newspaper cuttings, maps, reports of court cases, biographies of leading personalities, summaries of events and diverse other materials, provide unprecedented levels of detail into one of the most turbulent centuries of Chinese history.
- Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952 from Adam Matthew Digital Foreign Office Files for Japan provide digitized primary source material on Japan from the rise of Imperialism to post-war occupation. Content includes memoranda and minutes, reports, correspondence, maps, newspaper cuttings, and other printed material.
- Confidential Print: Africa, 1834-1966 Confidential Print: Africa provides digitized primary sources from the British National Archives collections of confidential correspondence from colonial, Dominion, and Foreign Offices relating to Africa. Content includes reports, descriptions of leading personalities, political summaries, economic analyses, maps, and dispatches and letters.
- Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1961 This collection consists of the Confidential Print for the United States, Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean, with some coverage of Central and South America, and covers such topics as slavery, Prohibition, the First and Second World Wars, racial segregation, territorial disputes, the League of Nations, McCarthyism and the nuclear bomb. The bulk of the material covers the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.
- Confidential Print: Latin America 1833-1969 This collection consists of the Confidential Print for Central and South America and the French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Topics covered include slavery and the slave trade, immigration, relations with indigenous peoples, wars and territorial disputes, the fall of the Brazilian monarchy, British business and financial interests, industrial development, the building of the Panama Canal, and the rise to power of populist rulers such as Perón in Argentina and Vargas in Brazil.
Travel and tourism
- Travel Writing, Spectacle and World History from Adam Matthew Digital This resource brings together hundreds of accounts by women of their travels across the globe from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. Students and researchers will find sources covering a variety of topics including; architecture; art; the British Empire; climate; customs; exploration; family life; housing; industry; language; monuments; mountains; natural history; politics and diplomacy; race; religion; science; shopping; war.
- Grand Tour from Adam Matthew Digital The Grand Tour was a rite-of-passage for many aristocratic and wealthy young men of the eighteenth century: a phenomenon which shaped the creative and intellectual sensibilities of some of the eighteenth century’s greatest artists, writers and thinkers. These accounts of the English abroad, c1550-1850, highlight the influence of continental travel on British art, architecture, urban planning, literature and philosophy. This collection of manuscript, visual and printed works allows scholars to compare a range of sources on the history of travel for the first time, including many from private or neglected collections, including letters; diaries and journals; account books; printed guidebooks; published travel writing; paintings and sketches; architectural drawings and maps.
- Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture: The History of Tourism from Adam Matthew Digital Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture provided digitized primary source material on British and American working class tourism, educational travel, outdoor activities and wilderness travel, environmental impact of tourism, travel agencies, portrayals of race, and technology and tourism industry. Content includes promotional films, travel journals, magazines, correspondence, company records, guidebooks, maps, photos and posters, and scrapbooks. 1850-1980s.
Race, ethnicity, and other "others"
- Black Studies Center from ProQuest Black Studies Center is a fully cross-searchable gateway to Black Studies including scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, reference books, and much more. It combines essential resources for research and teaching in Black Studies, including The Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, Index to Black Periodicals Full Text, Black Literature Index, and the Chicago Defender historical newspaper from 1912-1975.
- Black Freedom Struggle in the United States: A Selection of Primary Sources Black Freedom Struggle is a freely available, curated selection of approximately 1,600 primary-source documents related to critical people and events in African American history, 1790-2000. Documents presented here represent a selection of primary sources available in several ProQuest paywalled databases. Includes resources for teaching and learning.
- African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883 from Readex Searchable books, pamphlets and speeches covering the struggle of African Americans for equality during Reconstruction.
- African American Communities from Adam Matthew Digital African American Communities provides digitized primary sources on racism and discrimination, integration, culture and identity, and the history of the civil rights movement. Content includes pamphlets, magazines and newspapers, correspondence and oral histories, official records and government reports, photographs, maps, and essays from scholars. Early 1800s-present.
- African Americans and Jim Crow: Repression and Protest, 1883-1922 from Readex Searchable books, pamphlets and speeches covering the lives of African Americans during the early Jim Crow period.
- Race Relations in America from Adam Matthew Digital Race Relations in America provided digitized primary source documents from the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries covering desegregation, migration, the role of the church, race riots and racial tensions, protest marches, demonstrations, and legal cases of the Civil Rights Movement. Content includes audio recordings of speeches, photos, scrapbooks, surveys, case studies, posters, and photos. 1943-1970.
- History Vault from ProQuest History Vault is a digital archive that provides access to millions of primary source, cross-searchable, full-text/full-image documents on the most widely studied topics in 19th and 20th-century American history; it includes government documents, personal papers and organizational records.
- Indigenous Peoples of North America from Gale Documents the historical experiences, cultural traditions and innovations, and political status of indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada. Facsimiles of manuscripts, monographs, newspapers, photographs, motion pictures, images of artwork, and more. Most documents are scanned from microfilm. Cross-searchable with other archival collections in the Gale Primary Sources portal [link].
- American Indian Histories and Cultures from Adam Matthew Explore manuscripts, artwork and rare printed books dating from the earliest contact with European settlers right up to photographs and newspapers from the mid-twentieth century. Browse through a wide range of rare and original documents from treaties, speeches and diaries, to historic maps and travel journals.
- American Indian Newspapers from Adam Matthew Digital American Indian Newspapers provides digitizes sets of print journalism from indigenous peoples of the US and Canada. 1828-2016.
- Jewish Life in America c1654-1954 from Adam Matthew Digital Jewish Life in America will enable you to explore the history of Jewish communities in America from the arrival of the first Jews in the 17th century right through to the mid-20th century.
- Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law from HeinOnline Compiles essential legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world: every statute passed by every colony and US state on slavery, every US federal statute (and congressional debates to 1880) dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery; hundreds of pamphlets and books written about slavery; every English-language legal commentary on slavery published before 1920 as well as all modern law review articles on the subject; more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century; and a guide to additional free resources from around the world.
- Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice from Adam Matthew Digital Bringing together primary source documents from archives and libraries across the Atlantic world, this resource allows students and researchers to explore and compare unique material relating to the complex subjects of slavery, abolition and social justice.
- American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography American Slavery contains both an overview of the collection of former slave narratives with related links (available without charge from the home page) and the collection of narratives themselves. Each narrative is delivered as a PDF as originally transcribed, with some interviews available as sound files. Searchable by name of narrator, interviewer, or master, the county or state where the narrator lived in slavery, the narrator's age or year of birth, or the location of the material in the print version (volume and page). 1920s-1940s (original interviews).
War and security
- First World War: A Global Conflict from Adam Matthew Digital First World War: A Global Conflict provides primary source material on the global nature of war, the contribution of soldiers from around the world, and events and battles in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Russia, plus peace negotiations, post-war relief work, and European rebuilding. Content include letters and diaries, photos and postcards, and an object gallery. 1914-1919.
- America in World War 2: Oral Histories from Adam Matthews Digital America in World War 2: Oral Histories features digitized video interviews from the National WW2 Museum, plus letters, diaries, photographs, artifacts and military records covering operations in Europe and the Pacific and post-war occupation ion Germany.
- Service Newspapers of World War 2 from Adam Matthew Service Newspapers of World War Two contains an extensive range of both rare and well-known wartime publications for soldiers serving in major theatres around the world. Publications are included from many key nations involved in the conflict, such as the US, Canada, New Zealand, India, and the countries of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Both Allied and Axis publications are presented, offering a broad view of the war and the experiences of those on its front lines. 1939-1948.
- The American Soldier in World War II "During World War II, the US Army administered more than 200 surveys to over half a million American troops to discover what they thought and how they felt about the conflict and their military service. ... Browse and search over 65,000 pages of uncensored, open-ended responses handwritten by servicemembers, view and download survey data and original analyses, read topical essays by leading historians, and access additional learning resources."
- Digital National Security Archive from ProQuest The Digital National Security Archive provides primary documents on U.S. foreign and military policy since 1945. Subsets include the CIA Family Jewels Indexed information which reveals the CIA's most closely held secrets about their domestic intelligence activities they considered outside its charter, conducted at the height of the Cold War through 1973, and the Cuban Missile Crisis: 50th Anniversary Update which includes unpublished records from U.S. and Soviet archives.
College Librarian for Social Sciences & History | Assistant Director for Collection Management
560 Drillfield Dr
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Email is the best way to contact me with questions or appointment requests.
Office hours (walk-in and/or Zoom): T 1-3:00 pm, W-Th 2-4:00 pm (Eastern time), and by appointment.
Families, oral history
- Oral History Online from Alexander Street Press Oral History Online is both an index of full-text interviews and other oral history narratives and free oral history information online. The narratives cover diverse subjects, including civil rights and race relations, labor history, African American history, women's history, immigration studies, political history, American Indian history, regional history, and more.
Artistic and literary cultures
- Artstor Artstor provides high quality images of visual media like paintings, photographs, architecture, sculpture, decorative arts, and other forms of visual culture. It provides tools to create, manage, and present collections of images. Prehistoric times-present.
- Photography: The World through the Lens from Gale Assembles collections of photographs, photograph albums, photographically illustrated books, and texts on the early history of photography. Photographs from Britain, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas document exploration and travel; empire, colonization, and life in colonized regions; topography and archaeology; daily life in the nineteenth century in countries across the globe; people and portraiture; science, medicine, and criminology; representation of art works; key events: and wars. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- ImageBase from VT Libraries Special Collections and University Archives ImageBase is a browsable/searchable database of images and related information (metadata), retrievable by 19 fields including subject, title, and creator. Both small thumbnail images and larger full-screen images are available to the Virginia Tech community.
- Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings from Adam Matthew Digital Ethnomusicology priovides digitized audio recordings, videos, interviews, field notebooks, and journals that document musical traditions and how music interacts with different societies and cultures all over the globe, from Alaska to the Pacific Islands, West Africa to Indonesia, including religious music, secular music, celebrations and funerals. Mid 1900s-present.
- Shakespeare’s Globe Archive: Theatres, Players & Performance from Adam Matthew Digital Shakespeare's Globe Archive is a collection of digitized production and architectural materials that offers insights into the performance practice in the particular space of the reconstructed 1599 Globe Theatre. It details the way in which the theatre was constructed as a place of radical experiment and documents over 200 performances through prompt books, wardrobe notes, programmes, publicity material, annual reports, show reports, photographs and architectural plans.
- Shakespeare in Performance from Adam Matthew Digital Shakespeare in Performance provided digitize prompt books of Shakespeare's plays and other plays performed by influential Shakespearean actors. It also includes playbills, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photos and sketches, prop lists, cue sheets, lighting plots, musical scores, and correspondence of actors, directors, and managers. 1590-1965.
- Eighteenth Century Drama from Adam Matthew Digital Eighteenth Century Drama provides digitized primary sources, the London Stage Database, and the Biographical Dictionary of Actors, 1660-1800. The majority of content is play scripts. Topics covered include censorship and politics, satire and social commentary, celebrity culture and fashion, opera, theatre business, women, staging, technology, and performance, representations of war, conflict, race, religion, and historical events, and representations of domestic, familial, and pastoral scenes. 1730-1830.
- British Theatre, Music, and Literature: High and Popular Culture from Gale Features a wide range of primary sources related to the arts in the Victorian era -- not only playbills,scripts,operas, and complete scores but also personal letters, annotated programs, meeting minutes, and financial records. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- European Literature, 1790-1840: The Corvey Collection from Gale A collection and archive of writing representative of British Romantic and early Victorian writing and of Continental Romanticism, including works of historically neglected and marginalized authors whose lives and works have become the subjects of scholarly recovery during recent decades. Includes more than 3,600 works in French, more than 2,600 in German, and over 1,000 titles by British writers. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- Romanticism: Life, Literature and Landscape from Adam Matthew Digital Discover the working methods of Romantic poets and trace the evolution of celebrated verse in this powerful digital resource. Presenting the manuscript collections of the Wordsworth Trust, this digital collection offers students and researchers of the Romantic period unique access to the working notebooks, verse manuscripts and correspondence of William Wordsworth and his fellow writers, including Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey and Robert Southey.
- Nineteenth Century Literary Society: The John Murray Publishing Archive from Adam Matthew Digitial Nineteenth Century Literary Society provided digitized documents from the publishing company's archives, including prominent books such as Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Austen’s Emma and Livingstone’s Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa and the archival collection of the famed poet, Lord Byron; his manuscripts and personal papers. 1760s-1970s.
Popular culture and consumerism
- Victorian Popular Culture from Adam Matthew Digital Victorian Popular Culture is a portal comprised of four modules, inviting users into the darkened halls, small backrooms, big tops and traveling venues that hosted everything from spectacular shows and bawdy burlesque, to the world of magic, spiritualist séances, optical entertainments and the first moving pictures.
- Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 from Adam Matthew Digital Popular Culture explores the dynamic period of social, political and cultural change between 1950 and 1975. The resource offers thousands of color images of manuscript and rare printed material as well as photographs, ephemera and memorabilia from this exciting period in our recent history. Explore the interactive chronology to learn a wealth of fascinating facts, take a tour of visual resources, and watch video footage to experience the spectacular sights and sounds of the period for yourself.
- Advertising America from Adam Matthew Digital Advertising America provides digitized primary source materials from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency's archives. Content includes advertisements created by the agency's staff, correspondence, meeting minutes, creative briefs, newsletters, artwork and scripts, newsletters and memorandum, case studies, and research and reports. Late 1800s to 1990s.
- Trade Catalogues and the American Home from Adam Matthew Digital Trade Catalogues and the American Home provided digitized trade catalogues, advertising literature, historic documents relating to popular brands, and samples of materials like fabric and wallpaper. Topics explored include popular and material culture, social norms and attitudes, and the history of marketing and business. 1807-1980s.
- Market Research & American Business, 1935-1965 Market Research & American Business provides digitized primary sources on the history of motivational research and consumer behavior, market research reports, and personal papers of Ernest Dichter. Content includes marketing proposals, pilot studies, reports and memorandums, letters and correspondence, and research studies.
- Global Commodities from Adam Matthew Digital This resource brings together manuscript, printed and visual primary source materials for the study of global commodities in world history. The commodities featured in this resource have been transported, exchanged and consumed around the world for hundreds of years. They helped transform societies, global trading operations, habits of consumption and social practices.
Food, health, technology
- Science, Technology, and Medicine: 1780-1925, Part I [of 2] from Gale More than 3.5 million pages of journals, books, reports, and personal documents marking the rapid acceleration of scientific, technical, and medical knowledge. Themes include electricity and electromagnetism, mathematics and engineering, astronomy and astrophysics, color theory and the theory of natural selection, geology and mineralogy, chemistry and medicine, and exploration. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- Science, Technology, and Medicine: 1780-1925, Part II [of 2] from Gale This second part of Gale's Science, Technology, and Medicine archive includes some three million pages of scientific material from the late seventeenth century through the first quarter of the twentieth century, with a primary focus on the nineteenth century. The collection is divided into four major parts: academies of science publications, natural history, public health, and entomology. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- Disability in the Modern World from Alexander Street Disability in the Modern World: History of a Social Movement offers primary sources, supporting materials, archives, and video. The content supports the growing disciplines of disability history and disability studies, but also enriches history, media, the arts, political science, education, and other areas where the contributions of the disability community are typically overlooked.
- Medical Services and Warfare from Adam Matthew Digital Medical Services and Warfare provides digitized primary source material including military, scientific, professional, and personal perspectives on medicine during conflicts across the globe from 1850-1927. You can limit by conflict, types of healthcare, and document type.
- Popular Medicine in America 1800-1900 from Adam Matthew Digital Popular Medicine in America provides digitized primary sources on remedies and treatments in the 19th century, including phrenology, herbal medicine, and hydrotherapy in books, pamphlets, posters, and advertising.
- Medical Heritage Library Digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries to providequality historical resources in medicine. MHL's digitized medical rare books, pamphlets, journals, and films number in the tens of thousands, with representative works from each of the past six centuries, all of which are available here and through the Internet Archive. The US National Library of Medicine's History of Medicine Division is a major contributor. Open access resources.
- Food and Drink in History from Adam Matthew Digital Food and Drink in History provided digitized primary sources that cover the links between food and issues like identify, politics, gender, race, and socio-economic status, and covers topics in agriculture, nutrition, and food production. It includes cookbooks, Seagram Company Archives on brewing, winemaking, and legal issues around alcohol, government documents, marketing reports, and diaries and correspondence of anthropologists. 1514-1980.
- National Agricultural Library Digital Collections The National Agricultural Library Digital Collections (NALDC) offers an easy access to collection materials available in digital format. The NALDC offers rich searching, browsing and retrieval of digital materials and collections, and provides reliable, long-term online access to selected publications. NALDC includes historical publications, U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research, and more.
- World's Fairs: A Global History of Expositions from Adam Matthew Digital World's Fairs provides digitized primary sources on the history of international expositions. Topics to explore include globalization, city planning, diplomacy, and visual culture. Content includes correspondence, posters, personal accounts, guidebooks, case studies, maps, and government reports. 1829-present.
- Smithsonian Institution Digital Library The Smithsonian Library's Digital Library contains digital publications, collections and objects including online exhibitions, webcasts, digital editions, bibliographies and fact sheets, and finding aids/inventories for collections such as our trade literature collection and artist files.
- Evolution of Flight, 1784-1991, from Gale Photographs, manuscripts, and periodicals from the Smithsonian Institution illuminate the narrative of aviation through visual and textual records of inventors, engineers, designers, aviators, commanders, promoters, regulators, politicians, and popularizers.
Gender, sexuality, and children
- Archives of Sexuality & Gender from Gale The Archives of Sexuality & Gender provides primary sources on social, political, health, and legal issues impacting LGBTQ communities around the world. Includes LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940 and Sex and Sexuality: 16th to 20th Century.
- Sex and Sexuality from Adam Matthew Digital Sex and Sexuality provides digitized documents including published professional papers, correspondence between professional and private individuals, autobiographical accounts, official records, media coverage, and photographs encompassing all aspects of sex, sexuality and gender identity. Due to the nature of subjects in discussion, please be aware that this resource contains material of a sexually explicit and graphic nature. Content includes, but is not limited to, descriptions and imagery of sexual violence; non-consensual sexual activity; sexual activity including minors; genital mutilation; surgery, and suicide.
- Gender: Identity and Social Change from Adam Matthew Digital Gender: Identity and Social Change provides primary sources for the study of gender history, women’s suffrage, sexual orientation and expression, the feminist movement, and the men’s movement. Content includes correspondence, newspapers and magazines, business reports, photos and artwork, polls, and organization papers. 1800s-present.
- Defining Gender from Adam Matthew Digital Defining Gender provides digitized primary sources on gender, leisure, and consumer culture from British archives in history, literature, sociology, education, and cultural studies. Content includes pamphlets, college records and exam papers, commonplace books, diaries, periodicals, letters, ledgers, account books, educational practice and pedagogy, government papers from the Home Office and Metropolitan police, illustrated writings on anatomy, midwifery, art and fashion, manuscript journals, poetry, novels, ballads, drama, receipt books, literary manuscripts, travel writing, and conduct and advice literature. 1465-1917.
- Women: Transnational Networks Periodicals, books, manuscripts, diaries, reports, and visuals focus on issues at the intersection of gender and class from the late-eighteenth century to the era of suffrage in the early-twentieth century, all through a transnational perspective. Part of Gale's Nineteenth Century Collections Online [link].
- Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 from Alexander Street Press Women and Social Movements in the US indexes citations and full text of primary documents and archives; book, film, and website reviews; teaching tools; a directory of organizations; and a chronology of women's history. 1745-present.
- Gerritsen Women's History Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs Gerritsen Women's History Collection of Aletta H. Jacobs is a digitized collection of materials documenting feminist thought and women’s rights movements around the world. It includes more than 4,000 monographs and 300 periodicals from continental Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, mostly in English, French, and German. Both feminist and anti-feminist perspectives are represented. The collection also includes accounts of the condition of women through the centuries.
- Everyday Life & Women in America c.1800-1920 from Adam Matthew Digital Everyday Life & Women in America c.1800-1920 showcases unique primary source material for the study of American social, cultural, and popular history in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
- Women in The National Archives from Adam Matthew Digital This collection consists of two distinct elements: A finding aid to women's studies resources in The National Archives and original documents on the suffrage question in Britain, the Empire and colonial territories.
- Children's Literature and Culture from Adam Matthew Digital Children's Literature and Culture provides digitized books, catalogs, religious tracks, artwork, games and toys, and book proofs. 1700s-1970s.
- HeinOnline Portal Large and wide-ranging collections of historical and contemporary legal materials, including codes, treaties, constitutions, topical collections of historical documents, law reviews (resembling JSTOR), legal treatises from the US, Canada, and the UK. Not limited to narrowly legal topics: includes, for example, Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law.
- LLMC-Digital Important archive of historical legal and government documents from US and other jurisdictions: constitutions, codes, statutes, court reporters, treatises. Searchable. Displays original documents in full page image; reader interface resembles HathiTrust. Formerly Law Library Microfilm Collaborative.
- Congressional Serial Set (from ProQuest) Don’t be misled by the title: as the official historical record of the U.S. government, these resources are essential for any historical, political, or cultural research of the United States. The US Congressional Serial Set(incorporating American State Papers,1789-1838, and maps,1789-1969) includes documents on virtually every topic the US Congress has taken an interest in – which can be just about anything anywhere in the world -- since 1789 both for law-making and for oversight of executive-branch agencies: congressional reports on public and private legislation considered during each Congress (example); reports of investigations commissioned or conducted by Congress or its parts (example); reports from federal executive agencies (including land surveys, research and statistical publications, and reports of scientific investigations and explorations) submitted to Congress (example); budgets of the United States (since 1923) (example); treaties presented to the Senate (since 1979) (example); and reports and other documents of select nongovernmental organizations (example), from the Red Cross to the Smithsonian and the American Legion to the American Historical Association. Comprising only documents Congress has declared to be particularly important, the Serial Set does not (usually) include text of bills and resolutions, hearings, nor committee prints. See ProQuest's Serial Set guide. Alternative access to the Serials Set: HeinOnline. Our existing Hein databases have always contained substantial portions of the Serial Set, including the American State Papers, comprehensive coverage of Foreign Relations of the United States, and thousands of House and Senate reports and documents inside compiled federal legislative histories.
- American Congress Digital Archives Portal from WVU The American Congress Digital Archives Portal is a collaborative, non-partisan project that makes congressional archives available online. The archives are separated into official records and personal papers. The project will continue to expand partnerships, add archival collections, and improve site functionality in the future.
- American President, from UVA Miller Center Primary source collections include Presidential speeches (including recordings where possible), Transcribed oral histories of key members of presidential administrations, and Archive of "secret White House Tapes" from the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt through Richard Nixon. Secondary sources include presidential biographies, analyses, and exhibits bearing on issues and events.
Find more in physical archives
- ArchiveGrid from WorldCat ArchiveGrid indexes descriptions of archival material (such as we keep in our Special Collections) in libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives. Contact information for the source archive is provided.
- Access to Archival Databases (AAD) Provides access to records preserved permanently by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Out of the nearly 200,000 data files in its holdings, NARA has selected approximately 475 of them for public searching through AAD. These data were selected because the records identify specific persons, geographic areas, organizations, and dates. The records cover a wide variety of civilian and military functions and have many genealogical, social, political, and economic research uses. 1800s-present.
- Virginia Tech Special Collections Archive Space Virginia Tech Special Collections ArchivesSpace contains descriptive records for manuscript collections, record groups, and digital materials, as well as for our art, artifact, map, photograph, oral history, and textile collections. Depending on the type of material, the level of detail in a record can vary.
- Archival Resources of the Virginias Formerly known as Virginia Heritage, Archival Resources of the Virginias (ARVAS) is a consolidated database which provides information about the vast array of manuscripts and archival materials housed in historical societies, libraries, museums, colleges and universities across Virginia and West Virginia. Some finding aids include links to digitized materials or born-digital content, but in most cases you will need to visit that institution to view the materials. 1607-present.
Temporary, trial access only -- use while you can
The University Libraries at Virginia Tech regularly secure short-term, trial access to online resources in order to gauge their appropriateness to our university's teaching and research missions. These trials run in October, February, and sometimes April.
Trials are listed in a sidebar in the main Databases A-Z directory.
Each entry includes a link to a user survey. I and other subject librarians invite you to email us your detailed assessments of resources. Responses from the Virginia Tech community are vital to the library's deliberations about whether and when to acquire or enhance databases and the like.
As appropriate I will list trials and user survey links a resource trials tab in this and my other libguides. Entries for trials I may include in the body of my libguides will go away when the trial period ends.