Finding Primary Sources Online


With so many primary sources available online researchers don’t necessarily have to travel to an archives to find what they need. Academic and cultural heritage institutions have spent the last many years scanning large swaths of their collections and making them available in digital repositories, or have highlighted their collections in online exhibitions. Given the vast amount of primary sources held in the institutions’ physical spaces the resources that are available online are often just a drop in the bucket, but for many researchers the materials now available online have been as helpful as if they had made the trek to the research institution.

These databases are some of the best we know to provide primary sources to any researcher:

How to find archival materials in the UConn Archives:

The UConn Library digital repository holds holds scanned items from the archives. Note that while there are over 1,000,000 scanned items from the UConn Archives this represents only a small percentage of our overall collections: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/

Information about all of our collections, some of which may be digitized but most of which are not in the digital repository: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/ 

The UConn Library’s catalog, which provides information about published sources in the UConn collection but also leads to primary sources, at https://primo-pmtna01.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo-explore/search?vid=01UCT&lang=en_US

If you’re not finding what you’re looking for from the UConn Archives please contact us directly, at archives@uconn.edu, to discuss your research with our staff.

How to find sources in other archives in Connecticut:

The Connecticut Digital Archive has digital collections from dozens of cultural heritage institutions in the state (including the UConn Library), at https://ctdigitalarchive.org/

Connecticut Archives Online is a searchable database of the finding aids to collections in the state, at https://archives-library.wcsu.edu/cao/search/

Connecticuthistory.org, at https://connecticuthistory.org/, provides stories on Connecticut topics, often illustrated with archival sources.

Connecticut History Illustratedhttp://connecticuthistoryillustrated.org/

Connecticut State Library Digital Collectionshttp://cslib.cdmhost.com/index.php

Yale digital collections,  http://web.library.yale.edu/digital-collections and  http://web.library.yale.edu/digital-collections/all

How to find finding aids and research guides, with information about collections in the United States:

ArchiveGrid, which provides access to over 5 million finding aids of collections across the United States and internationally, https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/

Online Archive of Californiahttps://oac.cdlib.org/

How to find archival collections at archives in the United States:

The Digital Public Library of America provides access to digital collection across the United States, https://dp.la/. It also provides themed primary source sets and online exhibits at http://dp.la/primary-source-sets and http://dp.la/exhibitions. If there is any one source to go to for comprehensive information about digital collections this is it!

National Archives cataloghttp://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/, their resources for students and teachers, DocsTeach.org, and their online research tools: https://www.archives.gov/education/history-day/online.html

Smithsonian Institution, at https://library.si.edu/collections

The Library of Congress digital collections, at https://www.loc.gov/collections/ and their digital newspapers, at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

Digital Commonwealth, which provides access to digital collections in Massachusetts, https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/

Calispere, of the University of California system, https://calisphere.org/

New York Public Libraryhttps://digitalcollections.nypl.org/

New-York Historical Society, http://digitalcollections.nyhistory.org/

Avalonhttp://avalon.law.yale.edu/ provides access to documents in law, history and diplomacy from ancient times to the present

The UConn Library has a guide to eResources available primary to members of the UConn community, https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/news/new-eresources-at-the-uconn-library/

Published historical resources, which can often be used as primary sources:

HathiTrust— https://www.hathitrust.org/ — provides access to millions of historical books and journals online

Google books, https://books.google.com/

Research guides to help you get the most from primary sources:

Primary and Secondary Sources Overview, https://guides.lib.uconn.edu/primary

What is a Primary Source?, https://guides.lib.uconn.edu/primary_source

Latin American & Caribbean Studies Guide – Primary Sources, https://guides.lib.uconn.edu/lacarib/primarysources