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Primary Source Research Guide
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Finding Primary Sources
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> Digital Collections
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Visiting Repositories
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Use and Reproduction
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Digital Collections and Online Exhibits

A growing number of archives and manuscript collections have made digitized versions of their primary sources available on the Web, through scanning or digital photography. They might be presented in an online exhibit around a specific theme; a searchable database of images and/or documents; or sometimes entire collections are digitized.

The total number of items housed in an archival or manuscript repository can number in the thousands or even millions. Most institutions, having limited resources, are only able to digitize a small sampling of their collections, so remember that the primary sources available online are usually only a fraction of what is available within the repository.

When downloading or reproducing sources from the Web, you should be aware of the terms of use of the institution and any copyright considerations.

Postcard of Williston Memorial Library, Mt. Holyoke College. Detroit Publishing Co., 1908. Post Card Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

Five College Digital Collections

The Five College Archives Digital Access Project provides access to over 38,000 digitized items selected from archival records and manuscript collections relating primarily to women's history, particularly women's education at the Five Colleges.

Mount Holyoke College Postcard Collection
Over 200 historic postcards have been digitized and can either be viewed as thumbnails on proof sheets arranged in broad subject areas or individually searched by keyword.

University of Massachusetts at Amherst Digital Images Catalog
Nearly 8,000 digitized items from the University photographs collection, including photo prints, postcards, and some printed visual material.

Five College Online Exhibits

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Online Exhibits

A Documentary History of Hampshire College:
      Volume 1: 1965-1975
      Volume 2: 1975-1985
      Volume 3: 1985-1995

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Online Exhibits

Mortimer Rare Book Room (Smith College) Online Exhibits

Smith College Archives Image Gallery

"A Perennial Blessing": Celebrating Sophia Smith (Smith College)

Sophia Smith Collection (Smith College) Digital Collections

An Online Exhibit of Materials from the Papers of W.E.B. Du Bois


Selected Digital Collections outside the Five Colleges

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library (Library of Congress)

DoHistory (Harvard University)

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Online Exhibits

OAIster (University of Michigan): searches a wide variety of collections of digital resources from many institutions, including archives and manuscripts.

The Women and Social Movements Web site

Primary Sources On The Web (University of California, Berkeley)

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web (Smithsonian Institution Libraries)

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Project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Last update: February 26, 2007