Locating Primary Sources
There are many access points to the vast collections of primary sources available to you.
Certain words and phrases will find primary sources in library catalogs. You can use these in OskiCat or Melvyl:
-early works to 1800
For specific search strategies, see the Library's guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources.
Your searches will be more successful if, in your preliminary research, you identify specific:
- names of relevant individuals and organizations
- dates of events
- what terminology was used at the time by participants and observers? (ex: negro or colored instead of african american)
Online Archive of California (OAC)
A searchable and browseable resource that brings together historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies, and archives. Contains over 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters, and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections. Images are organized into thematic and institutional collections, such as historical topics, nature, places, and technology.
Searchable descriptions of nearly a million historical documents, personal papers, and family histories kept in libraries, museums, and archives worldwide. Includes information on how to examine and order copies.
Archive Finder (including ArchivesUSA and NIDS UK/Ireland)
Directory which describes tens of thousands of collections of primary source material housed in thousands of repositories across the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
One stop shopping for U.S. congressional publications. Provides index and abstracts of congressional publications back to 1789, including full text of published Congressional Hearings from 1824-present (unpublished until 1979), full text Committee Prints from 1830-present, full text Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports from 1916-present, full text United States Congressional Serial Set (and its various former titles) from 1789-present, and legislative histories from 1970-present.
ProQuest Legislative Insight
Provides access to more than 18,000 professionally researched legislative histories of US Law. Histories include the Public Law itself, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports and prints, Presidential signing statements, and CRS reports. 1929-present
Provides open access to more than 15 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers from more than 1500 European institutions. Europeana -- the European digital library, museum and archive -- launched in 2008 and is funded by the European Commission and its member states. This current prototype is one of many parallel projects of The European Library.
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
Provides full-text access to thousands of 18th, 19th and 20th Century Parliamentary Papers. Includes all the "sessional papers" of the British Parliament: bills, reports of committees, papers presented by Royal Commissions and government departments, treaties and international agreements, command papers, and statistics.
Center for Research Libraries Online Catalog
CRL acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources from a global network of sources. UC Berkeley Library students, faculty, and other researchers have liberal access to these rich source materials through interlibrary loan, electronic delivery, and a growing collection of digitized material.
Microfilm and Microfiche
The UC Berkeley Libraries has extensive microform (microfilm and microfiche) collections, containing valuable information for researchers. The following lists of African American microform holdings include much primary source material.
The Newspapers and Microforms Room (40 Doe Library) has machines that read, print, and scan images from microfilm and microfiche.
Microfilm and microfiche owned by the UC Berkeley Libraries can be found through OskiCat; use Advanced Keyword Search to limit your search to "All Microforms." In the News/Micro collection, microfilm rolls and microfiche cards are shelved with their own numbering system; click here for a PDF of the collection's floorplan.
The Bancroft Library - Overview
The Bancroft Library is one of the treasures of the campus, and one of the world's great libraries for the history of the American West.
Some Bancroft materials are available online via Calisphere, which includes primary sources from many California libraries and museums.
How to Use the Bancroft Library
1. Be prepared! Read secondary sources and know something about your topic.
2. Before you go: Search OskiCat so you can bring call numbers with you. You can limit your OskiCat search to find materials at the Bancroft Library, instead of all campus libraries (choose "Bancroft Library" from the pulldown menu that says "Entire Collection."). Remember that there are primary sources in many other campus libraries as well.
Important: if the item is in storage ("NRLF") and owned by The Bancroft Library, do not use the Request button in OskiCat. Instead, use the Bancroft's online request form AT LEAST 72 hours in advance (they prefer a week.)
If you have 72 hours in advance, you can also use the online request form for materials not in storage; that will speed things up when you arrive.
If the OskiCat record mentions a "finding aid" (an index) to a manuscript collection, you should use it to help you find what you need in the collection. If the finding aid is online there will be a link from the OskiCat record, or you can search the Online Archive of California to find it. The finding aids that are not online are near the Registration desk at the Bancroft Library.
3. Learn how to use the Bancroft Library. Read about Access (bring a quarter for lockers!) and Registration (bring two pieces of ID!). Remember to bring call numbers, titles, etc. with you. You will fill out a form to present to the Circulation Desk, and materials will be paged and brought to you.
5. Ask for assistance at The Bancroft Library's reference desk.Read more