Society of American Archivists: Using Archives- A Guide to Effective Research (a very thorough guide!)
American Historical Association > A Survival Guide to Archival Research
Learning to Do Historical Research
William Cronon’s site on doing research (the whole site is excellent, see, in particular, material on Sources > Manuscripts and Archives
Library and Archives Canada: A to Z tools and guides for Canadian archival collections
National Archives and Records Administration (USA): Getting Started Overview
Wayne C. Booth, et al., The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
Philip C. Brooks, Research in Archives: The Use of Unpublished Primary Sources (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 120pp.
Useful for historical perspective, and theories of understanding material, but too dated to take into account digital methods.
Helen M. Buss and Marlene Kadar, eds., Working in Women’s Archives: Researching Women’s Private Literature and Archival Documents (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001)
Elizabeth Ann Danto, Historical Research (Oxford: OUP, 2008) Basic, quick read, but useful.
Diana Hacker, Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age (New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s).
M.R. Hill, Archival Strategies and Techniques (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993). Dated but useful in parts.
Kip Sperry, Reading Early American Handwriting (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2008)
How to Read 18th Century British-American Writing
English Handwriting, 1500-1700: An Online Course (Transcription, dating, reading, etc.)
Script Tutorials: Resources for Old Handwriting and Documents (BYU. For English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)
U.K. National Archives Palaeography: Reading Old Handwriting, 1500-1800
Genealogical and biographical information
Ancestry Library (access provided by Columbia Libraries- not the same as public version, Ancestry.com)
Ancestry.com (public version, some free content, requires individual subscription for full access)
FamilySearch (A free LDS genealogical site akin to Ancestry.com)
CLIO Databases: Databases with Biographical content
Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office
Addresses relationship between copyright law and scholarship, including fair use and copyright ownership. Website has excellent information.
Excellent collection of historic economic data and simple calculators to determine the relative value of something (how much is/was it worth?) with data from the China, Japan, UK, and US. “To comprehend a past transaction or asset, one must begin with the contemporary value of the item. To make this valuation meaningful, it must be measured against the value of the appropriate economic indicator in that year.” Provides relative value in seven different ways: CPI; GDP deflator; consumer bundle; unskilled wage; production worker compensation; GDP per capita; and GDP.
All Library databases can be accessed here. Examples of what you can type in search field to see what databases come up
Research Guides by Subject Areas
American National Biography Online
Entries for individuals includes a note at the end that lists a few major archival collections on the subject, as well as published biographies.
Archive Finder (for US, UK, Ireland), incorporates ArchivesUSA. Searches multiple archives by keyword.
Columbia Center for Oral History (COH) Collections Portal
COH is the oldest and largest organized oral history program in the world. This portal searches more than 6,000 records of interviews held by the Center for Oral History. In addition there is a paper card catalog in COH (8th floor Butler) with a cross reference that lists every interview and page number in which each person is mentioned. For example, there is an interview with Frances Perkins, but there is also a card that lists every other interview in which her name appears.
Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research (Columbia University)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Entries include biographies, archives, and locations of portraits/photos.
Social and Cultural History: Letters and Diaries Online
Online, searchable archive of private writing and personal narratives.
Archives typically consist of personal or organizational correspondence, administrative records, unpublished manuscripts, ephemera, and assorted media, but can include almost any type of “text.” The document that serves—for better and worse—depending on its condition—as the roadmap to what is contained in an archival collection is the finding aid. It describes the organizational and intellectual order of the collection, which typically includes
Not all finding aids include all these categories of information, but most aim to cover these basic elements.
Catalogs (including access to digital books, audio, film, etc.)