ETH STD 250: Asian American History

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

Searching OskiCat for Primary Sources

Search OskiCat for primary sources using keywords and adding terms that denote primary sources, such as:

-personal narratives


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 Bancroft Library interiorthe 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.

4.     Read about the new camera policy ($10/day and no flash!) or about getting photocopies.

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:

For specific search strategies, see the Library's Guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources

Learn more about your topic in advance:

  • names of relevant individuals and organizations
  • dates of events
  • places
  • 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

Records of government agencies

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by the name of the government agency as organizational author

Congressional information

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

Public Opinion Polls

Supreme Court cases



Making of Modern Law: US Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978

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

 Oral arguments:

    • Oyez Project:  Audio recordings of oral arguments before Supreme Court 1968 - 2010
      • selective before 1968 and after 2010
      • Briefs and opinions also selectively available.
    • Supreme Court of the US official web site:  transcripts of oral arguments 2000 - present
      • audio of oral arguments 2010 - present
Last Update: February 25, 2014 11:24