Primary sources are materials contemporaneous to the time you are researching, created by someone with first-hand experience of the phenomena that you are researching. Primary sources can come in any format, including newspaper articles, diaries, memoirs, letters, reports, scholarly articles, books (including works of fiction and non-fiction), films, artworks, laws, financial records, posters, photographs, and artifacts.
Archives are materials created by people or organizations, in the course of their every-day activity, which are preserved because of their historical significance or value for research. Another definition of archives: unique constellations of materials, collected and preserved because they contain important information and/or evidence of their creator's responsibilities and actions. All archival collections are comprised of primary sources, but not all primary sources are archival.
Because primary sources can come in any format, many databases and other places you would look for secondary sources are also good for finding primary sources. Examples of this include books in CLIO or HathiTrust and scholarly journal articles in JSTOR (which includes articles from the 19th century, helpful for researching the history of a given field or area of knowledge) or other databases. One way to find primary sources in these places is to limit by date to the period you're researching. Another is to use keywords (particularly in CLIO) such as memoir, autobiography, source*, documentary (which often refers to books of re-printed primary source materials), letters, etc.
In addition to the resources listed below, historical newspapers and other news media can be a great place to find primary sources from the time you're researching.
Some of these resources represent digitized archival materials from specific institutions; others are portals to multiple institutions' digital collections or databases collocating digital archival materials on a given topic. These collections include some formats highlighted elsewhere in this guide, including newspapers, government documents, and books; in addition, they contain manuscript materials (e.g. letters, notes, drafts of publications), photographs, and more. Archives are rarely able to digitize the entirety of their holdings or the entirety of a given collection; you should look to see full descriptions of collections on an institutions' website to get more context for digitized archival materials.
The Empirical Reasoning Center - provides help formulating empirical questions, finding appropriate data sets, and guidance and training with analysis software.
The Barnard Zine Library is part of the Barnard Library and Academic Information Services (BLAIS) in the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning at Barnard College, Columbia University. The zines are described in the library catalog we share with Columbia University Libraries (CUL), CLIO.
♥ Barnard's zines are created by women and non-binary people, a collection emphasis on zines by women of color and an effort to acquire more zines by trans women. We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, trans feminisms, and other topics. ♥
There are two zine collections: circulating stacks and special collections.
Circulating zines are located on the 2nd floor of the Milstein Center and can be borrowed by Barnard and Columbia students and members of the BorrowDirect and MaRLI networks and are also available via interlibrary loan. Barnumbia loans are semester long and renewable 99 times.
The zine library is open the same hours as the Milstein Center, and can be checked out during Circulation & Help Desk hours.
Many of the databases noted in the Primary Sources sections of this guide also contain digitized newspapers and magazines. Those databases are not repeated here--definitely check those lists out if there is a subject area or time period not covered in these databases.
This guide lists digitized, full-text searchable databases for newspapers and magazines, with a focus on databases that have historical (e.g. 20th century and earlier) coverage. In order to search in these databases, you should use terms that would have been in wide use at the time of the writing of the article, even if those terms or words would not be in use currently. Build these lists of keywords from your reference sources, secondary sources and from other primary sources.
We have access to many more newspapers and magazines than are included in the databases listed on this guide. To search for a specific newspaper or magazine, for publications from a certain city, or for a specific article, use CLIO: