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U.S. local history: a research guide

Local history research, step by step

Starting a research project on US local history? Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Is there any scholarly work -- by historians or by researchers in other fields -- on the time and place you want to study? Is there a magazine or journal that covers the history of your place? Search America: History and Life and PAIS
  2. What newspapers were published in that time and place? How can you access them? What about radio or TV broadcasts?
  3. Are there local government documents that are relevant to your research? How can you access them?
  4. Are there photographs of that time and place? Maps?
  5. Are there personal memoirs, business records, or other types of primary sources available to you?

If you can't find useful material by googling, try any or all of these tools. 



Archive Finder

Use search strategies like "newark new jersey zoning" or "pittsburgh municipal records"

Not sure where to start?

Encyclopedia of local history. Edited by Carol Kammen and Amy Wilson. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2012
History Reference (SH): E180 .K25 2012

Historical gazetteer of the United States. Paul T. Hellmann. New York : Routledge, 2005.
Trustee Reading Room Reference (DR): E154 .H45 2005

Librarian for (United States) History & African American Studies

Steven Knowlton