Skip to Main Content

Primary Sources: Digital and Physical 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.

University Archivist

Profile Photo
Brigette Kamsler
Gelman Library Suite 704
2130 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Special Collections Librarian

Profile Photo
Leah Richardson
Special Collections Research Center
Gelman Library, Suite 704
Social: Twitter Page

Research Appointments

Finding Primary Sources @ GW


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. 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. Contact a special collections librarian for help with your research.

Hours information

Using Archival Collections On Site in Gelman

Start here:​
This database allows you to search across all of the library's archival collections. You can limit your search results by date, names, and subjects. The majority of the archival, manuscript, and rare book collections in special collections are housed offsite and require 3-5 business days for retrieval. Request materials in advance of visits. Send requests or questions here: 

Digital Collections @ GW

The Digital Services unit is part of the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and deeply engaged in cross-departmental projects to identify, digitize, and provide access to historical collections online. GW Libraries’ digital services focus on the development and implementation of ethical and sustainable digital collections. Digital services staff also support the accession, preservation, discovery, and use of born-digital resources and web archives. 

Primary Source Databases

Content Warning

When working with historical materials, you may encounter racist, oppressive, or outdated language and imagery in specific materials or represented in the wider archival record.

GW Libraries • 2130 H Street NW • Washington DC