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Archives for Historical Research: Home

The online guide to the Wintersession Course on doing archival research


Welcome to the course guide for Archives for Historical Research. This guide was created as a space for all links and information shared in the annual wintersession Archives for Historical Research, taught by Steve Knowlton (Librarian for U.S. History and African American Studies), Sara Logue (Assistant University Librarian for Special Collections Public Services), Deborah Schlein (Librarian for Near Eastern Studies), and Alain St. Pierre (Librarian for World History, History of Science, and African Studies).

Preliminary Research

We recommend using these resources to help identify archives which hold materials related to your topic. 

Published Works on a Topic

Search the bibliographies of books on your topic. They will often give you a detailed list of relevant archives. Be expansive in your search. Consider not only the important works on your topic, but also: 

  • biographies
  • related topics (e.g., if you’re studying labor history, also review works on socialism, economic history, specific industries)
  • You can “reverse engineer” to expand your bibliography: if you identify an archival source, search the name of the collection in Google Books (“Jane Addams papers")

Biographical Dictionaries

There are a number of biographical dictionaries for different countries around the world. Many of these provide lists of archival sources for important historical figures. This is not an exhaustive list.

Biographical Dictionaries in Print


Specialized Catalogs and Directories

Many archives and rare book libraries publish directories detailing their holdings. Princeton University Library has collected many of these. Ones we do not hold can be requested from Interlibrary Loan