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Primary Sources for Historical Research

Descriptions and links to digitized primary sources, as well as print collections of newspapers, diaries, correspondence and other primary sources

Using these collections

These collections are primarily located on the 2nd floor, in cabinets near the back staircase, and are arranged there alphabetically by collection title. On this page, though, the collections are arranged by subject.

Specific print idexes and bibliographies for these collections are on a bookcase near the Archives service desk.

America in General

Library of American Civilization
Speeches, letters, memoirs, magazines, journals, books, government documents and other materials from the early exploration and settlement of North America until the outbreak of World War I.
A four-volume guide assists in the use of the collection and can be found on the Reference shelves of the Microforms room.
These microfiche require a special lens for the machine. Ask about it at the Periodicals desk.
Presidential papers collections
*These are in Cabinets 10 & 11 at the far right-hand end of the row.*
Includes the papers of Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, William McKinley, James Monroe, Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor, John Tyler, Martin Van Buren, and George Washington.
National Archives : Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Great Britain
Communications addressed to the U.S. Department of State by its diplomatic representatives to Great Britain between 1791 and 1906. Subject matter is wide-ranging and significant.
Much more detailed information can be found in this digitized pamphlet.
Microfilm. 200 rolls.
National Archives : Notes from the British Legation in the United States to the Department of State
Notes, often handwritten, from British diplomats in the U.S. from 1791 to 1906.
Included communications deal with relations between Great Britain and the United States and wider diplomatic issues, as well as the commercial and legal difficulties of individuals.
Also included are royal proclamations, issues of newspapers, and other miscellaneous materials.
Microfilm. 145 rolls.
National Archives : Records of the Bureau of Census: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Mississippi.
Schedules full of details pertaining to individuals in Mississippi.
Microfilm. 2 rolls.
National Archives : Diplomatic Instructions of the Department of State, 1801-1906.
Five volumes relating to Venezuela.
Three volumes pertaining to special missions between 1823 and 1886.

Early America

Draper Manuscripts
Documents, accumulated in the mid to late 19th century, concerning the early American frontier from the 1740s to 1812.
Includes letters, interviews, and other documents pertaining to Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, William Clark, Tecumseh, the Frontier Wars, and much more. Much primary source material of one sort or another.
A one-volume overview is helpful for getting a general sense of the collection, but the much more detailed multi-volume annotated bibliography is necessary for finding specific documents included.
Hakluyt Society Publications
Documents from and about the European exploration of the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia from the 1300s through 1600s, including letters, journals, official reports, memoirs, affidavits, instructions, minutes, despatches, and early published works.
An extremely helpful bibliography is online. That web page lists the First, Second, Third, and Extra Series; our holdings include up through number 107 of the Second Series.
Jeffersonian Americana
Approximately 700 books, letters, and documents from colonial, revolutionary, and federal periods of American history
An accompanying print bibliography lists all of the contents included.
Early American children's books from the A.S.W. Rosenbach Collection
Reproduces 680 of the 816 children's books, published between 1682 and 1836, from the A.S.W. Rosenbach collection in the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Arranged by entry number in Rosenbach's bibliography entitled, Early American children's books.
Author/title index is on the first microfiche of the collection. Bibliography for the collection is on both the Loan Shelves and Reference Shelves.
Pamphlets in American History
5,288 documents covering the Revolutionary War, biographies of the Revolutionary War era, general biography, women, and American Indians
An accompanying print bibliography lists all of the contents included.


Texas as a Province and Republic 1795-1845
An excellent collection of valuable primary source material relating to the early growth of Texas, including its time as Spanish province, its colonization by Americans, its revolution, and its annexation by the United States.
A detailed bibliography is on a bookcase near the Periodicals service desk.
National Archives : Records of the Work Projects Administration
1. Central Correspondence 1935-1944, State Series Texas
2. Selected Documents Relating to Road Construction in Texas
Microfilm. Two rolls altogether.
County Tax Rolls
Potter County tax rolls from 1879-1921 and Randall County tax rolls from 1881-1921.
Microfilm. 16 reels. (Most also include other counties.)

American Indians

Indian Archives Division, Oklahoma Historical Society
Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency Letter Books
National Archives : Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1881
Letters, court documents, telegrams, ledger entries, and receipts
Microfilm. 5 rolls.
National Archives : Southern Superintendency, 1851-1871 : Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs
May overlap substantially with the 1824-1881 letters described above
Microfilm. 2 rolls.


Anti-Slavery Propaganda from the Oberlin Library
Mainly American anti-slavery propaganda published before January 1, 1863, the date of the Emancipation Proclamation. Small amount of pro-slavery literature and British anti-slavery propaganda also included. About 2,500 pamphlets included.
A print guide is on the Reference shelves of the Microforms room.
These microcards require a special reader machine found in the Gov Docs dept.
Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers Project
More than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery, collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941.
On microfiche in Cornette's Microforms room and online from the Library of Congress.

Civil War

State Secession Debates
19 rolls of microfilm with Civil War-era state government documents specific to the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Included are correspondence, resolutions, proclamations, laws, and legislative proceedings relating to secession.
Confederate States of America Congressional documents
The record of the proceedings of the Confederate Congress, as well as resolutions and proclamations from the various states in the Confederacy.

American West

Plains & Rockies
Journals, letters, government reports, memoirs, articles, and books written between 1800 and 1865 describing various parts of the region from the Missouri River to the Sierra Nevada mountains and from Mexico to the Arctic (excluding, most notably, Texas).
An accompanying print bibliography lists all of the contents included.
These microcards require a special reader machine found in the Gov Docs dept.
Western Americana
1,012 documents and books from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.
Letters, journals, and official records are included, as are a great many memoirs and other books.
The collection covers the early Anglo-American, Spanish, and French West, as well as the later western frontier. Topics include the fur trade and early explorations, trails west, Indians, government and politics, expansion, Mormon Utah, agriculture, land and water, conservation, and urban development.
An accompanying print bibliography lists all of the contents included.
National Archives : Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior Relating to Wagon Roads, 1857-1887
Letters, reports, itineraries, journals, and other papers relating to the construction of wagon roads in the West, including the territories of Idaho, Montana, Dakota, Nebraska, and New Mexico.
Microfilm. 16 rolls.
National Archives : Records of the Bureau of Reclamation, Project Histories and Reports of Reclamation Bureau Projects, 1905-1925
Relating to the construction of irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
Microfilm. 220 rolls.
National Archives : Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior Relating to Yellowstone National Park, 1871-1886
Communications received and sent by (1) the Patents and Miscellaneous Division, with varied subject matter reflecting general nature of the park's administration and (2) the Appointments Division and relating strictly to personnel matters.
Microfilm. 6 rolls

Twentieith Century

Carnegie-Myrdal Study: The Negro in America
A major collaborative research project, undertaken from 1938 to 1944, on black-white relations in the U.S.
An accompanying print bibliography lists all of the contents included.
International Military Tribunal for the Far East
Proceedings 1946-1948
There is a print index to this collection with the main title "The Tokyo Trials" on the Reference shelves of the Microform room.
National Archives : Collections of the World War II War Crimes Records
Court papers, journals, exhibits, and judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East
Microfilm. 40 rolls.
Henry A. Wallace: Oral History, Diary, & Papers
Wallace was a farmer, journalist, businessman, and politician, who, among other achievements, served as Secretary of Agriculture, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce under FDR and ran for President in 1948 as the nominee of the Progressive Party. His service as Secretary of Agriculture covered most of the years of the Dust Bowl. These papers consist chiefly of correspondence, though there are also appointment books, schedules, a diary, an oral history, and other miscellaneous materials.
A print guide can be found on a bookcase near the Periodicals service desk.
Wartime Conferences of the Combined Chiefs of Staff 1941-1945
Joint meetings between American and British chiefs of staff of the armed forces.
Minutes, memoranda, papers, reports, and directives pertaining to the planning of Allied strategy in World War II.
Columbia University Oral History Collection
Transcripts, "generally edited for accuracy by the oral author," of interviews and spoken memoirs from nearly 2,700 people.
Accounts were generally developed between 1948 and 1970 and are from notable figures in government, politics, military, law, science, business, education, and the arts.
A print guide can be found on a bookcase near the Periodicals service desk.
Woods Truck Oral History Program
Harry Woods was an American truck historian and founder of the Woods Highway Truck Library. He conducted interviews with 20 notable figures in the history of 20th century road and rail transport.

Great Britain

British Parliamentary Papers
Debates (accounts of verbal proceedings), proposed legislation, reports, policy statements, treaties, and more.
We have a page with an excellent detailed overview that you should examine.
On microfiche in Microforms room: papers from 1979 to 1995
On microcards in Government Documents departments: papers from 1731 to 1979
Changes of Government, Cabinet Reconstructions, & Political Crises, 1837-1901
Handwritten letters to and from and notes by Queen Victoria and those in her government.
Camden Society publications
Valuable and useful documents out of English history, largely from the 1400s through 1800s.
Includes letters, diaries, songs, ecclesiastical documents, poems, notes of Parliamentary proceedings, wills, expense accounts, early published works, and other materials.
A print bibliography, whose title begins "A Centenary Guide...," is on the Reference shelves of the Microforms room (at Z5055.G6 R66) and is essential for navigating the collection. The guide describes four different series, of which we have the first two.
Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876. Published 1880-1895
Narrative of the voyage; findings pertaining to Physics and Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology; and overall summary.
Chaucer Society Publications
Middle English poetry and literature and analysis of such works.
Early English Text Society
Documents and literature mostly from 1100 through 1500. Much poetry and other literary works but also sermons, liturgies, and many other religious works, as well as medieval church records and registers of abbeys and nunneries. Also included are some wills and some royal proclamations.
Library of English Literature
Principally literary works written by English authors between 1585 and 1910, but also included are letters, sermons, and historical accounts.
A print guide can be found on the Reference shelves of the Microforms room.
These microfiche require a special lens for the machine. Ask about it at the Periodicals desk.
Rolls Series
British history, variously in English or Latin, mostly from the 11th through 16th centuries. Includes letters, laws, court cases, Parliamentary records, early historical monographs, treatises, and other key documents.

Miscellaneous Topics

Agricultural Journals
Newsletters, magazines, and pamphlets from the 1930s through 1960s.
ACPRA Research Reference Center
Publications from the 1970s from the American College Public Relations Association, principally of relevance to fund-raising and public relations for colleges and universities.
Crime and Juvenile Delinquency
Studies, reports, analyses, and government documents from the 1960s and 1970s about jails and prisons, alcoholism, gangs, drug addiction, police, probation, recidivism, sentencing, sex offenders, and other aspects of crime and juvenile delinquency.
A print guide can be found on a bookcase near the Periodicals service desk.
History of Nursing
Approximately 1,200 reports, pamphlets, programs, correspondence, manuscripts, books, and articles, principally from the late 18th to mid 20th century.
A print guide can be found on a bookcase near the Periodicals service desk.