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Primary Sources: Archives and Manuscript Collections

This guide is intended to introduce primary sources: what they are and where you can find them at Gelman, online, and elsewhere.

Finding Primary Sources @ GW

Special Collections Research Center
The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) offers numerous primary sources, including maps, manuscripts, newspapers, diaries, photographs, and pamphlets. The SCRC collects materials related to many areas of research; strengths include University history, Washingtoniana, labor history, and education. Click the Search and Browse button on the left side of the page to search across all finding aids or to browse by topic or finding aid title.  There is also a collection of rich bibliographies on popular topics (such as LGBT Resources, American Labor History, and Maps of Washington DC) available to assist researchers interested in particular topics. There are also many collections that have been digitized and are accessible online at the SCRC website. Contact a special collections librarian to discuss your research topics.

Library Catalog
The Library Catalog searches the many cataloged books, maps, government documents, and images in Special Collections, and can search the full text of a manuscript collection's finding aid in addition to the catalog record about the collection.  Start with a basic search (ex. "Langston Hughes") and then use the Refine Tool on the right side of the screen to narrow your search results.

Library Databases
The Gelman Library offers FREE access to numerous online databases for students and staff.  From the Gelman library homepage, click on Articles and Databases.  The History and American Studies categories are especially rich in primary source databases focusing on newspapers, oral histories, photographs/images, and documents, though you can find them in other subject areas as well.


Primary Source Databases

GW Libraries • 2130 H Street NW • Washington DC