American Women's History: A Research Guide
Archival Collections: General Tools
Home Page | Last Update: 19 June 2000 | Suggestion Box

Using Archives

Brooks, Phillip Coolidge. Research in Archives: The Use of Unpublished Primary Sources. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [1969]. 127p.

Burke, Frank G. Research and the Manuscript Tradition. In assoication with the Society of American Archivists. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1997.
Reviewed by Susan E. Davis for H-LIS:

Larsen, John C., ed. Researcher's Guide to Archives and Regional History Sources. Hamden, Conn.: Library Professional Publications, [1988]. 167p.

National Archives and Records Administration

National Archives Home Page []

Printed Directories & Finding Aids

DeWitt, Donald L., comp. Articles Describing Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1997.

Hinding, Andrea, ed. Women's History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1979. 2 vols.
The definitive guide in the field, Women's History Sources provides brief but informative descriptions of over 18,000 collections in almost 1,600 repositories throughout the United States.

Kenney, Anne R. Archival Sources for Women's History: An Annotated Bibliography of Guides, Inventories, and Catalogs to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986.

National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the United States. 2d ed. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1988. 853p.

National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States. Alexandria, Va.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1983- . Microform with CD-ROM indexes.
Finding aids for hundreds of repositories reproduced on microform.

Online Directories & Finding Aids

A growing number of archives and libraries are using web pages to provide general information about manuscript and archival collections, such as collection strengths, hours of operation, etc. Many also include online finding aids for specific collections. In addition to the sites noted below, check the State and Regional History section of this guide for references to print and electronic guides to archival sources.

Abraham, T. Repositories of Primary Sources [online]. [cited 20 June 1997]. Available from:
The most extensive collection of links to web sites of specific repositories.

Pankin, Mary Faith. Archival Sites for Women's Studies [online]. March 1997 [cited 25 May 1997]. Available from:

Uncovering Women's History in Archival Collections [online]. San Antonio: Archives for Research on Women and Gender, University of Texas at San Antonio. November 1997 [cited 3 March 1998]. Available from:
This collection of links is organized by state and includes highly informative annotations.

Some of the better known collections are listed below:

Union Catalogs & Related Tools

Archives USA [database]. Alexandria, Va.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1997- . Updated annually.
Additional information about this subscription service from Chadwyck-Healey:

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1962- .

RLG's Archival Resources [database]. Mountain View, Calif.: Research Libraries Group, 1998- . Continuously updated.
Product overview from the publisher:

WorldCat [database]. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. Updated daily.
Bibliographic descriptions and cataloging information for over 36 million books, manuscripts, and other types of sources. The searcher can limit a search to manuscript collections only. Ask a reference librarian at your library if you have access to this extremely valuable database.

RLIN AMC File [online database]. Available from:
This database includes over 400,000 descriptions of archival and manuscript collections from institutions around the world.

Special Projects: SGML Finding Aids

American Heritage Project []
The goal of this project is create a database of finding aids from physically distributed archives.

Related Internet Sites

Miller, Leon C. Ready, 'Net, Go!: Internet Resources for Archives [online]. [cited 20 June 1997]. Available from:

American Women's History: A Research Guide
Ken Middleton
Todd Library, Middle Tennessee State University