A Historical Research Guide
HISTORY 202 - U.S. HISTORY 1840-1870
A HISTORICAL RESEARCH GUIDE
This guide will assist in your search for primary source materials for your research project in this course. It will also direct you to databases of secondary resources and background information.
What is a primary source?
"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research."
Source: Reference and User Service Association History Section in the American Library Association. Website, Using Primary Sources on the Web
Primary sources may also include reprinted materials or collections of reprinted materials which were originally created at the time the event took place. For a detailed explanation of the various types of primary sources see: "What are Primary Sources" by Yale University.
Searching the online catalog, ASA, for primary source materials
ASA, the Lehigh University Online Catalog
Search ASA to locate books, documents, journals, magazines and other materials in the Lehigh Collection.
In searching for materials in the Library catalog, consider using the following keywords in your subject search in order to find primary materials:
- Captivity Narratives
- Indians of North America - Captivities
- Personal narratives
- Slave narratives
Also consider limiting your search by date in ASA's "Advanced Search" form. Type in a year or range of years in the box labeled pub year . Examples of pub year limits:
- 1820 retrieves items published only in that year
- 1800-1820 retrieves items published between and including the range of years
- <1820 retrieves items published before that year
- >1800 retrieves items published after that year
Some of the materials you find with your search may indicate that they are in Special Collections or in Restricted Storage. If this is the case you will need to fill out a Special Collections request form. The material will be brought to the Special Collections Department in Linderman library where you can use it.
- If you don't find materials that seem useful, do a PALCI search to identify books you can quickly borrow from other libraries in our consortium of college and university libraries. You can search PALCI from within ASA or from these links. Requesting a book from PALCI is very easy and the materials can arrive quickly.
Secondary Source Databases
What is a secondary source?
Secondary sources are materials such as books and articles that have been written later than the actual historical event and which reflect on those earlier events. Secondary sources utilize and interpret primary source materials. They can include general books, textbooks or popular works as well as scholarly articles.
- America History and Life.1964-
- Most useful for finding secondary sources of information, this database is a complete bibliographic reference to the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Published since 1964, the database comprises almost 400,000 bibliographic entries, providing an incomparable research tool for students and researchers of US and Canadian history. Covering over 2000 journals, this database is also a valuable source of scholarly book reviews and dissertations.
- ATLA: Religion Index
- This index of journal articles, books and book reviews covers topics in Religion Studies and theology. It can help locate materials that address the history of religions and religious movements.
- Jstor: The Scholarly Journal Archive contains the full text of scholarly journals, beginning with the very first issue of each title. There is a gap, typically from 1 to 5 years, between the most recently published journal issue and the content available through JSTOR. You may choose to search the full text (every word) in any or all of the disciplines presented on the search page."
- Not an index to articles in journals, this specialized tool is essentially a catalog of the books, manuscripts, documents , journal holdings and other materials in libraries in the U.S. and internationally. Materials in these collections can date back to 1200 . This database can locate secondary or primary source materials.
Many of our journal article databases allow you to obtain an online full text version of the articles they index. We also have a new technology called SFX, or Lehigh Links that will connect you to online full text where-ever it may reside. This quick guide will explain how it works: "Locating the full-text of articles using SFX."
Locating Primary Sources in Lehigh's Subscription Databases
Finding Primary Sources in the popular literature of the day: You may be able to find articles, speeches, and personal accounts that qualify as primary sources in the magazines, newspapers and popular literature of the day. Lehigh's library also makes available a significant number of online sources that provide the searchable full text of historic materials and publications.
Magazines, Journals and Books
- American Periodical Series Online
- Searchable, full-text, online access to over 1,100 periodicals that first began publishing between 1740 and 1900, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, and many other historically-significant periodicals.
- Google Books
- A surprising number of books from respected research libraries have been digitized by Google. Many of those that are beyond copyright are available in full text (ie. "full view.") You may very well be able to find texts that contain primary sources such as papers and correspondence or memoirs. These digitized texts are searchable from within the Google view.
- Pooles Index to Periodical Literature. 1802-1902.
- Print edition in Linderman Reference Collection Call number: 050 P82 Indexes scholarly and a handful of more general periodicals of the time.
- Women Writers Online
- Women Writers Online presents searchable full text of all Women Writer's Project titles currently available online, covering works written between 1400 to 1850.
In addition to collections of newspapers on microfilm, the library also makes electronic access available to a number of newspaper resources of particular interest to historians. These include:
- African American Newspapers: The 19th Century
- Full text searchable access to seven African-American newspapers. Earliest paper begins in 1827.
- Early American Newspapers Series II: 1758-1900
- As part of the Readex, America's Historical Newspapers Series, this product offers more than 200 significant 18th and 19th-century newspapers. EAN Series II focuses on the period between 1820 and 1860, when the number of American newspapers rose dramatically. Based primarily on the newspaper collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Series II also includes titles from the holdings of the Library of Congress, the Wisconsin Historical Society and other organizations. Dates of coverage vary by newspaper. Newspapers are in the process of being digitized and added to this Series II collection. As of July 2006, 125 of the newspapers had been added. The project is expected to be completed in two years or less.
- Harpers Weekly - The Civil War Era 1857-1865
- This searchable and browsable database contains all the pages of Harper's weekly (1857-1865) as scanned images, together with a series of four indexes: subject, illustrations, literature & publishing, and advertising. There are also groupings for literary genre and occupation/role which provide cross-index access for special categories of materials. The library owns the fragile printed volumes of Harpers Weekly covering 1857-1915. They are in restricted storage (call number: 051 H295) and would need to be requested via the storage request form for use in the LMC or Special collections.
- New York Times, Historical Newspapers. Full Text image database 1851-2003
- Includes the entire historical run of The New York Times. The database delivers every page of every issue from cover to cover, with full-page and article images in downloadable PDF. Each record is associated with a "page map" so that the item's context on the page can be seen. Using the "MORE SEARCH OPTIONS" one can limit retrieval to birth notices, letters, display or classifed ads, editorial cartoons, etc.
Click on the link below to be directed to a guide to the other newspaper collections in the Lehigh University Libraries.
'''Colonial and Early U.S. Newspapers in Microfilm Area'''
Newspaper Archival Collections made available from other institutions:
Atlanta Historical Newspapers A digital database providing online access to 14 newspaper titles published in Atlanta from 1847 to 1922 is available through the Digital Library of Georgia, housed at the University of Georgia Libraries. The archive includes the following Atlanta newspaper titles:
Atlanta Daily Examiner (1857), Atlanta Daily Herald (1873-1876), Atlanta Georgian (1906-1911), Atlanta Intelligencer (1851, 1854-1871), Atlantian (1911-1922), Daily/Georgia Weekly Opinion (1867-1868), Gate-City Guardian (1861), Georgia Literary and Temperance Crusader (1860-1861), New Era (1869-1872), Southern Confederacy (1861-1864), Southern Miscellany (1847), Upper Georgia Whig (1847), Southern World (1882-1885), Sunny South (1875-1907), Weekly Constitution (1869-1882). Other newspaper archives available through the Digital Library of Georgia include the Macon Telegraph Archive (1826-1908), the Columbus Enquirer Archive (1828-1890), the Milledgeville Historic Newspaper Archive (1808-1920), the Southern Israelite Archive (1929-1958, 1984-1986), and the Red and Black Archive (1893-2006).
Guides to Historical and Archival Research:
The American Historical Association's guide to historical literature.
General editor, Mary Beth Norton ; associate editor, Pamela Gerardi. 016.9 A512 1995 - Linderman Reference
Guides to archives and manuscript collections in the United States: an annotated bibliography. Compiled by Donald L. DeWitt. Greenwood Press, 1994 L-REF 973.016 D522g
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections Linderman Reference 016.091 N277
The 26 printed volumes of this work provide descriptions of approximately 72,300 collections located in 1406 different repositories with approximately 1,085,000 index references to topical subjects and personal, family, corporate, and geographic names. These volumes were printed from 1959 to 1993. Since that time the catalog has been continued as an online product which can be accessed from the Library of Congress NUCMC website
Researcher's guide to archives and regional history sources / edited by John C. Larsen. Hamden, Conn. : Library Professional Publications, 1988. L-REF 973.072 R432
RefWorks is a personal online database that allows you to store citations to the research materials you find. You can easily organize them and even generate bibliographies and citations in a variety of publication styles.