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Early Modern Atlantic

Research resources for the Atlantic World. ca. 1400-1800

Finding Resources – Database that Gives Overview of What's Out There


Starting Points: Overviews

Starting Points: Books

Databases to locate articles and book reviews

Individual Journals

Provides electronic access to the United Kingdom's Colonial, Dominion and Foreign Offices' confidential correspondence relating to Africa between 1834 and 1966. This resource provides a searchable collection of scores of official documents and maps covering almost the entire period of European conquest and colonisation of Africa (with the exception of Egypt).

Archival Collections in the Region

Edward E. Ayer Collection on American Indians
The Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection is one of the best in the country and one of the strongest collections on American Indians in the world. In 1911, Edward E. Ayer (1841-1927) donated more than 17,000 pieces on the early contacts between American Indians and Europeans. Ayer, a member of the first Board of Trustees, was the first donor of a great collection to the Newberry. Since then, the Ayer endowment fund has enabled the library to collect in excess of 130,000 volumes, over 1 million manuscript pages, 2,000 maps, 500 atlases, 11,000 photographs, and 3,500 drawings and paintings on the subject.

Locating Archives by Geographic Region or Type
This will direct you to the Archives and Archival research LibGuide. Click on the Archives tab to find information about and links to archives in different regions and also specialized archival repositories. 

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Find over 3 million descriptions of archival materials and the locations of these historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and other archival materials.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.

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.

Repositories of Primary Sources
Listing of more than 5,000 websites that describe holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources in the Unites States, Canada, Europe, Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Near East.


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.

The following is a small sample fo materials held in Special Collections on topics related to the Atlantic, including visual depictions of the New World, slavery, and medicine.



Below is a simplified key to using the various parts of the library catalog

1. OneSearch is the broadest possible option. It will search the Hesburgh and partner libraries, as well as other databases and public domain sources. Unlike the other options, it even searches within individual articles. Best used when having trouble finding anything on your topic.

2. Advanced Search, which is available for both "OneSearch" and "NDCatalog," lets you narrow down searches by different categories, such as subject heading or author name. Highly recommended for better-filtered search results.

3. NDCatalog is a good medium-level searching tool. It examines records held at Notre Dame and partner institutions, such as St. Mary's, but does not look inside individual articles as "OneSearch" does.

4. Catalog Classic is an older interface, essentially built on top of Notre Dame's catalog records. Some patrons prefer the way this interface allows one to search Hesburgh collections.

5. WorldCat is a service run by another company, OCLC, which searches library catalogs across the world. This can be helpful for finding materials currently not held by Notre Dame and requesting them through interlibrary loan.

6. Databases searches the TITLE of databases themselves, not journal titles or article titles. If you don't know which database you might like to use, you can find under this tab a link to Databases by subject, which will allow you to browse all databases in, for example, English Language and Literature.

The other tools on the search interface are used less often. "Articles" searches across databases for scholarly articles, but results can be hit-or-miss. "eJournals" is a search interface strictly for the title of journals that currently offer online access. "eBooks" searches the catalog with physical holdings filtered out.

This interface is subject to change. The options above are current as of January 2017.

Search Strategies

1. Search by Subject Heading. ND Catalog, OneSearch, and WorldCat all us Library of Congress (LC) subject headings. Enter "su:" in the search box and then the subject to search by subject heading. To find the subjects, either enter keywords, use the ones suggested under "objects" in the details tabs of the library catalog record, or search the Library of Congress Authorized Headings.

su: Atlantic Ocean Region

su: Atlantic slavery

su: Africa -- Relations -- Europe

su: African Americans -- History -- To 1863

2. Search for a phrase using quotation marks (search is not case sensitive).

"early modern atlantic"

"atlantic world"

3. Search by joining different terms together using AND or OR (must be in all caps)

slavery AND "atlantic world"

community OR society

4. Truncation – use an * to search for all variations of a word

empir* to search for empire, empires, empirical


H-Atlantic – An international network for Atlantic World History from 1500 to 1800. This an interdisciplinary network for scholars who study colonial North America and the United States, Europe, West Africa, the Caribbean, and South America in a transatlantic context.

Citing Your Work

Turabian Quick Guide – Summary of principal citation styles contained in Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed. (2013) hosted on the University of Chicago Press website.

Subject Specialists


Rachel Bohlmann (US History, American Studies)

Erika Hosselkus (Curator, Latin American Collections)


Julie Tanaka (Western Europe; Curator, Rare Books and Maps)

Complete List (pdf)