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Archives and Archival Resources

Information about locating and conducting research in archives.

Discovery Tools

Best Places to Start

Find over 3 million descriptions of archival materials and the locations of these historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and other archival materials. Most of these materials are located at archives in the United States. For materials in European archives, see Archives Portal Europe.

Archives Portal Europe
This portal represents 28 national archives in Europe and provides information about their holdings and makes some of their materials searchable online.

Contains catalog records of over 45,000 libraries worldwide. The records overlap with Archive Finder (NUCMC records) but also include independently contributed records not in NUCMC. Limit search to “Archival Materials” (this will yield mixed materials, including archival materials and manuscripts).


More Ways to Locate Repositories and Collections

American Historical Association's Archival Wiki
This site provides listings of archives throughout the world, subdivided by country. This listing includes contact information, holdings, access policies, and other pertinent information.

Directory that describes more than 220,000 collections of primary-source materials located in repositories in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Includes the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) and the index to the National Inventory of Documentary Sources (NIDS).

Locate unique sources held at over 220 institutions in the United Kingdom.

Consortium of European Research Libraries Portal (CERL Portal)
The CERL Portal gives access to descriptions of manuscripts of all periods and early printed materials (up to 1830) in collections in Europe, the United States and Australia.

Council of European Studies at Columbia University
Digital library of cultural artifacts in digital form.

Find records from the National Archives and over 2,500 other archives in the United Kingdom.

Irish Literary Collections Portal
The portal provided access to the finding aids of over 100 of North America's Irish literary manuscript collections.

Search for post-medieval manuscripts and letters held in European libraries, archives, documentation centers, and museums.

National Register of Archives
A comprehensive catalogue compiled from English and Scottish Archives that contains information about the nature and location of manuscripts relating to British History. This is the best resource to begin with for archival resources related to British History.

PORT: Archives in Italy
Links to national, state, municipal, commercial, institutional, academic, and trade union archives in Italy with descriptions of each.


Archival Research Tool

Social Networks and Archival Contexts (SNAC)
This is a prototype research tool that provides researchers with convenient, integrated access to historical collections held by multiple private and public archives and libraries around the world while also setting the stage for a cooperative program for maintaining information about the people documented in the collections.