Primary sources are gold for this emerging historian. An assignment for my Historical Research Methods class led me to Terry Abraham‘s Repositories of Primary Sources maintained at the University of Idaho. Effectively a database of websites, it provides links to thousands of sites across the globe holding primary sources of varying kinds. It’s important to note that many of the sites listed do not provide digitalized versions of primary sources accessible on the web. Abraham is clear in pointing out that while the site provides links to “holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar,” they are “solely of web sites that describe” these collections. Because the focus is on the repositories, virtual collections and exhibitions themselves won’t be found on the site. Abraham points out that other sites maintain listings of archival exhibits on the web. An excellent example is the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. [Do a search on the Civil War.]
Organization of Repositories of Primary Sources is geographical. Thus one needs to have some idea where a holding institution is physically located. There is also an “Additional General Links” list which has, among other things, other archival portals across the globe.
Abraham, Emeritus Professor, was Head of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Idaho Library from 1984 to 2005. He has an interesting article on lessons learned in bringing archival materials to the web available for reading here.