Primary Source Databases - Selected
For a complete list, start with the Library home > Electronic Resources > Electronic Resources, Types A-Z > Archival Collections and Primary Sources
Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)
Indexes articles from Chicago Defender (1905-1975), Chicago Tribune (1849-1987), Los Angeles Times (1881-1987), New York Times (1851-2007), San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922), Wall Street Journal (1889-1993), and Washington Post (1877-1994).
Readers' Guide Retrospective
Covers more than 500 leading American magazines and journals from 1890 to 1982. Platform change: All WilsonWeb databases have switched to the EBSCOhost interface.
Ethnic News Watch
Indexes over 200 ethnic, minority, and native press publications. Contains news, culture, and history searchable in both English and Spanish. Also includes a retrospective backfile of titles (1960-1989).
American Social History Online
Provides access to 175 digitized library collections related to U.S. social history.
Discovering American Women's History Online
A gateway of digital collections of primary sources (photos, letters, diaries, artifacts, etc.) that document the history of women in the United States.
Nation Digital Archive
Full text access to The Nation, a weekly news magazine covering U.S. politics and society since 1865.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries
Include approximately 150,000 pages of published letters and diaries by more than 1000 women. Represented are all age groups and life stages, all ethnicities, many geographical regions. Also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography.
Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives
Documents the key events, trends, and movements in 1960s America. Includes 70,000 pages of letters, diaries, and oral histories; more than 30,000 pages of posters, broadsides, pamphlets, advertisements, and rare audio and video materials. Enhanced by dozens of scholarly document projects, featuring annotated primary-source content that is analyzed and contextualized through interpretive essays by historians.
Searching OskiCat for Primary Sources
Search OskiCat for primary sources using keywords and adding terms that denote primary sources, such as:
puerto rican* interviews
african american soldiers personal narratives
irish american* newspapers
The Bancroft Library - Overview
The Bancroft Library is one of the treasures of the campus, and one of the world's great libraries for the history of the American West.
Some Bancroft materials are available online via Calisphere, which includes primary sources from many California libraries and museums.
How to Use the Bancroft Library
1. Be prepared! Read secondary sources and know something about your topic.
2. Before you go: Search OskiCat so you can bring call numbers with you. You can limit your OskiCat search to find materials at the Bancroft Library, instead of all campus libraries (choose "Bancroft Library" from the pulldown menu that says "Entire Collection."). Remember that there are primary sources in many other campus libraries as well.
Important: if the item is in storage ("NRLF") and owned by The Bancroft Library, do not use the Request button in OskiCat. Instead, use the Bancroft's online request form AT LEAST 72 hours in advance (they prefer a week.)
If you have 72 hours in advance, you can also use the online request form for materials not in storage; that will speed things up when you arrive.
If the OskiCat record mentions a "finding aid" (an index) to a manuscript collection, you should use it to help you find what you need in the collection. If the finding aid is online there will be a link from the OskiCat record, or you can search the Online Archive of California to find it. The finding aids that are not online are near the Registration desk at the Bancroft Library.
3. Learn how to use the Bancroft Library. Read about Access (bring a quarter for lockers!) and Registration (bring two pieces of ID!). Remember to bring call numbers, titles, etc. with you. You will fill out a form to present to the Circulation Desk, and materials will be paged and brought to you.
5. Ask for assistance at The Bancroft Library's reference desk.Read more
Finding Primary Sources
Primary sources can be found in a variety of library tools:
- Catalogs: OskiCat and Melvyl
- Online book and text collections
- Primary Source databases provided by the Library
- Vetted sites on the web:
Learn more about your topic in advance:
- names of relevant individuals and organizations
- dates of events
- what terminology was used at the time by participants and observers? (ex: negro or colored instead of african american)
Primary Sources - Government Information, Census and Polls
- Search the library catalogs: OskiCat or MELVYL (about) by the name of the government agency as organizational author
Lexis-Nexis Congressional includes:
- Bills and Laws 1789-present
- Congressional hearings: 1824-present
- Committee Prints: 1817 - present
- CRS Reports (good places to start): 1916 - present
- Hearings 1817-present
- House & Senate reports and documents: 1817 - present
- Legislative Histories 1969-present
- Serial Set 1789-present, including maps
- Congressional Record and its predecessors: 1789-2001
United States Census
- Historical Census Browser 1790-1960
- For more census information, see the UCB Library Government Information web site
Public Opinion Polls
- Find Public Opinion Polls and Surveys: browse through the Library's Statistics and Numeric Data databases to find databases for opinion polls and surveys.
Supreme Court cases
- http://supreme.justia.com/ by year
A fully searchable collection of briefs and other documents related to cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. It contains over 150,000 cases and 350,000 documents. Search results are linked to the actual full-text PDF documents.
- Lexis-Nexis Academic (Supreme Court briefs 1936- onwards)
In the "Look up a Legal case" section, click on Landmark Cases
on the left, click on Supreme Court Briefs