You asked for it, and we provided it. Kinda. But you will like it, we guarantee it.
We’ve made it easier to find online collections of primary sources. Here’s how:
In the upper part of the library home page, click on “Database Names” then click on the “Browse by Subject or Name” link that appears under the search box. Then click on “History: Primary Sources.”
Here’s the direct link for bookmarking: http://erms.library.cornell.edu/search~S4/m?History:Primary%20Sources
In this category, you’ll find a browsable list of many of our large and important digital primary source collections. We’ve tried to provide something for everyone, all places and periods of history, but we might not be there yet. We’ll be adding to the list over time. If you think we’ve left something out, please let us know through the “send feedback” link on the bottom of every library page or contact me directly.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Not all collections appear in this browseable list, because, well, we wanted to keep it browsable and not a gazillion item long list like a Google search result.
Remember, all databases, digital collections (large or small), online journals, as well as books can be found through the Classic Catalog with a title search (always drop initial articles in titles).
It has been a long time coming (when the Archivist of the US first announced it, he promised a prototype site for Sept., 2011), but Founders Online is finally here. It makes freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America. Professor Mary Beth Norton was one of a small group of outside experts that guided the development of the project.
Since Founders Online is powered by the University of Virginia software that drives its subscription product American Founding Era collection, you might be wondering whether you can stop using the subscription product and only use the free version. The answer, unfortunately, is no. There are still significant differences between them:
- The American Founding Era collection includes several collections not included in the Founders Online product. They include The Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry, The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, and The Dolley Madison Digital Edition.
- Founders Online will include in late 2013 a collection not included in the American Founding Era collection: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. These had previous been freely available at at www.franklinpapers.org.
- Both products contain transcriptions of thousands of documents that have not yet appeared in the published volumes, provided via the Early Access program that releases unedited transcripts of letters.
- Search mechanisms in the two products differ. Founders Online favors a simple search box with subsequent refinement by collection, date, and period possible. The Founding Era collection allows for complex searches from the start.
For the time being, therefore, students of the early republic will need to consult both online resources. Perhaps one day the National Archives will elect simply to secure a national subscription to the American Founding Era collection, thus obviating the need to maintain two incomplete delivery mechanisms.
The Library has recently added to its digital collections American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries (APCRL). The collection consists of nearly 3 million pages of general interest magazines and trade journals from the period 1850-1920. Technology, industry, agriculture, medicine, and architecture are strongly represented. Most of them are not found in paper format in the library.
A full list of the titles in APCRL is downloadable from here; individual records for each title should appear in the library’s catalog by the end of May. Here is a sample of the titles included that demonstrates the range of material in the set:
- American Annual of Photography
- American Artisan and Hardware Record
- The American Builder
- American Gas-light Journal
- The Craftsman
- The Cultivator & Country Gentleman
- Electrical Age
- Hamptons Magazine
- The Labor Journal
- The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer
- Woman’s Protest against Woman Suffrage
APCRL is included and cross-searchable with the Library’s existing subscription to American Periodical Series Online. An uncredited essay entitled “The value of trade journals” is available on the site.
We have recently added two new resources in military history that are sure to be of use to many.
The International Bibliography of Military History is now available as an online volume. It was first published by the International Commission of Military History as the Bibliographie internationale d’histoire militaire. In 2012 Brill assumed publication responsibilities. It indexes the international literature of military history, covering most world languages. The annotations to the bibliographical entries appear currently in German, French, Italian, Spanish and English. We have online access to all annual volumes starting with volume 1 in 1974.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History was recently added to the suite of reference tools included in Oxford Reference Online. According to its web site, it “offers both assessment and analysis of the key episodes, issues and actors in the military and diplomatic history of the United States…. Entries are written by top diplomatic and military historians and key scholars of international relations from within the American academy, supplemented, as is appropriate for an encyclopedia of diplomacy, with entries from foreign-based academics, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.”
[UPDATE] Michael Engle in the Library Reference Department just reported that we may not have yet activated access to the content of the Oxford Encyclopedia. Please let Michael or Peter Hirtle know if this is an important resource for you.]
[UPDATE, 6 March 2013] Electronic access should be working now. And we have added access to the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Political and Legal History.
In honor of Black History Month, Fold3 is providing free access in February to its Black History Collection. The records, most of which have been scanned from the holdings of the National Archives. Here is a sample of what is being made available:
- Court Slave Records for Washington, DC
- South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732–1872
- US Colored Troops Civil War service records
- Southern Claims Commission records
- The Atlanta Constitution newspaper
- WWII Draft Registration Cards
- Military Intelligence files on Negro Subversion, 1917-1941
Some of the record sets, such as the Southern Claims Commission records (Southerners’ reimbursement claims for property Union troops seized during the Civil War) and WWII draft cards for older Americans, also cover non-African-Americans.
The Library investigated getting a site license to all of the Fold3 content, but the cost was remarkably high – especially considering that scans from the National Archives are scheduled to be added to Archives’s online holdings 5 years after they are made. The cost of an individual membership to Fold3 is quite low, however. This free month is a good way to sample the type of material they have available. You will have to register for a basic free membership to get access: just click on the blue box at the bottom of the Black History Collection homepage.
As part of a concerted an on-going effort to rebuild its collection budget, the Library has dedicated some funds to acquire important resources that it has had to forgo in the past. I am happy to announce the acquisition of the latest electronic primary source resource. “Everyday life & women in America c.1800-1920” is drawn from the collections of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History, Duke University and The New York Public Library. It comprises thousands of fully searchable images and transcriptions of monographs, pamphlets, periodicals, and broadsides addressing 19th and early 20th century political, social and gender issues, religion, race, education, employment, marriage, sexuality, home and family life, health, and pastimes. With an emphasis on the conduct of life and domestic management literature, the collection is an important companion to Cornell’s own HEARTH database on the history of home economics.
It is hard to single out individual items among the rare books, pamphlets, and serials, but one of the most interesting titles is Town Topics, the society paper that “chronicled the New York social world during the height of the Gilded Age.” In one of the useful essays that accompany the collection, Amy Blair notes that the journal “figures prominently in the fiction of Edith Wharton as both the public face (sometimes invited, often disdained) of the elite set and, more distressingly, as a “how-to” manual for the nouveaux riches.”
The newest additions to the Rotunda collection of The American Founding Era are The papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry. Here is a summary from the catalog record:
The papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1722-1793) and her daughter Harriott Pinckney Horry (1748-1830) document the lives of two observant and articulate founding-era women who were members of one of South Carolina’s leading families. Their letters, diaries, and other documents span nearly a century (1739-1830) and provide a window on politics, social events, and people of the late colonial and early national periods. They richly detail the daily life of maintaining family ties and managing households and plantations. Pinckney’s correspondence illustrates the importance of women’s social connections and transatlantic friendships. Horry’s correspondence documents the strength of personal ties that linked the elite families of the North and the South to each other even as connections were threatened by disputes over slavery, commercial differences, and political and constitutional conflict.
Margaret Nichols from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) sends word of an important change in procedures:
A few minutes past 8:00 am on Thursday, January 10, the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections inaugurated a new online registration and request system. The new system will allow patrons to do most of the registration process online, and to request materials from the collections online as well, instead of having to fill out request slips by hand. It will also improve RMC’s ability to handle the many requests it receives, to host classes and exhibitions, to process reproduction orders, and to analyze how our collections are being used and how we can best focus our efforts to provide access to them. In implementing the new system, which uses Aeon software from Atlas Systems, Cornell joins a distinguished group; Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the New-York Historical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the University of Texas at Austin, among others, are all in the growing community of Aeon libraries.
In order to register in the new system, all users will need to register online, even those who have recently registered by manually filling out a registration card in RMC. Fortunately, the online registration takes only a few minutes. Simply go to https://rare.library.cornell.
The following announcement from Katherine Reagan, the Ernest L. Stern Curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC) is sure to be of interest to many Cornell historians:
The end of the year frequently brings many gifts from our generous alumni, donors, and friends. 2012 was no exception – we were very fortunate this year! Below is a list of RMC acquisition highlights, both purchases and gifts.
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
2012 Acquisition Highlights
3-D Image Collection. #8080.
More than 10,000 images and artifacts related to the visual and cultural history of the stereograph and subsequent 3-dimensional imaging technologies assembled over a 20 year period by a private collector. Included are 50 examples of rare stereo formats: daguerreotypes, salt prints, tintypes, ambrotypes, autochromes, kromskop views, tissue views and glass transparencies; thousands of photographic stereoviews representing a vast array of subjects and geographical locations,1,200 additional stereo images In miscellaneous formats,100 examples of stereo cameras, viewers, and related optical devices, 300 examples of holograms, lenticular images, anaglyphs, films, and 3-D digital images, and 200 related magazines, periodicals, catalogs, and books on the history of the three-dimensional image. Purchased with support from Stephan Loewentheil.
Ernie Paniccioli Archive. #8079
Ernie Paniccioli is a Cree photographer, author and activist who has been capturing Hip Hop culture on film for the past 35 years. His 2002 book Who Shot Ya: Three Decades of Hip Hop Photography is widely celebrated and along with Joe Conzo, he is considered one of Hip Hop’s earliest and most important photographers. His archive includes more than 50,000 images in physical and digital form: photographic prints, negatives, digital files, magazines, and other ephemera created or collected by him, representing the complete body of his work as an artist and photographer from the 1970s to the present, including his work as a primary staff photographer for Word Up magazine. Accompanying the acquisition is the artist’s permission to provide the complete corpus of his work online, as well as licensing rights to a majority of his images.
Lincoln and the Civil War: Additions to the Loewentheil Family Photography Collection
In December 2012 we received another spectacular gift addition to the Loewentheil Family Photography Collection. This year’s gift includes dozens of Abraham Lincoln portraits and engravings, first printings of Lincoln’s important Cooper Union Address, photographs and other commemorative materials documenting Lincoln’s death, funeral, and national mourning, Alexander Garnder’s portraits of the conspirators who plotted Linconl’s assasination, a manuscript eye-wittness account of Lincoln’s New York funeral; an extensive collection of photographic portraits of Confederate generals; and an important grouping of 450 photographs of New Yorkers, New York City and environs.
Joe Conzo, Jr. Archive
Called “The man who took Hip-Hop’s baby pictures” by the New York Times, Joe Conzo captured images of the South Bronx between 1978 and 1983, including early hip hop jams, street scenes, and Latin music performers and events. Conzo’s rare images capture Hip Hop when it was still a localized, grassroots culture about to explode into global awareness. Although many of Joe’s prints came to Cornell in 2007 with the arrival of the Hip Hop Collection, this year Joe will transfer all of his South Bronx negatives to us. His images are being digitized by Boo-Hooray Gallery in New York City under the supervision and training of Cornell University Library’s digital production team and with funding provided by Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences Digitization Program. After scanning is complete, the physical negatives will move to the Kroch Library vault. Accompanying the acquisition is the artist’s permission to provide the complete corpus of his work online, as well as licensing rights to a majority of his images.
Punk collection. #8060
Approximately 3,000 rare and unique items documenting English and American punk and post-punk music, circa 1974-1986. The collection includes original manuscripts, approximately 365 fliers and posters, more than 1,300 fanzines, sound recordings, clothing, photographs, original art, and other ephemera. 157 books in the collection are cataloged separately. A core group of this material was on exhibition in London earlier this fall, and those materials arrived in December 2012 to join the first half of the collection.
The Gail and Stephen Rudin Slavery Collection, #4681
Delivered on December 21, 2012, this spectacular addition to the Rudins’ collection on the history of slavery, includes more than 200 newspapers, engravings, estate appraisals, wills, legal documents, manumissions, advertisements posting rewards for the capture of runaway slaves, slave dealer and slave trade manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, slave taxation records, stereoviews and other records documenting the sale, hire, purchase and debt payment of slaves in 18th and 19th century America.
Charlie Ahearn Hip Hop Archive, #8078
Charlie Ahearn is an American film director and video artist. He is best known as the director and producer of Wild Style (1983), celebrated as the first film to document Hip Hop culture. Charlie Ahearn’s Hip Hop Archive features 10 cubic feet of flyers, posters, original art, videos, audio, oral histories, film production records, photographs, and vinyl documenting early Hip Hop culture and his 1983 film Wild Style. Picked up in New York on December 8, 2012
Jorge “Popmaster Fabel” Pabon Archive
Popmaster Fabel, born Jorge Pabon is a hip hop dance pioneer and Vice President of the Rock Steady Crew. He established his archive in the Hip Hop Collection this fall with a deposit of early flyers, promotional materials and other ephemera documenting his career as a celebrated b-boy from the early 1980s to the present. An adjunct professor of dance at the NYU, Fabel practices and teaches popping and locking, a style of hip hop dance. He is also a graffiti artist and a DJ. Fabel and his wife Christie Z-Pabon are the founders of Tools of War, an organization dedicated to bringing the true spirit of hip hop culture to NYC parks. The Hip Hop Collection is a proud supporter of their True School Park Jam Series — a summer lineup of park jams at White Park (Spanish Harlem), Crotona Park (Bronx), and St. Nicholas Park (Harlem). In 2012 Fabel won the Words Beats Life, Inc. Hip Hop Pioneer of the Year award.
Archive of the IGTImes (originally called the International Grafitti Times), #8067
This collection documents the international rise of the aerosol art movement and its origins in New York City’s hip hop culture. Founded by David Schmidlapp, with art direction by Phase2, the complete files of the magazine (published 1983-1994) fill 16 cartons and include: 44 hand-collaged paste-up boards, 4,500 photographs documenting art work sent to the IGTimes from all over the world, 5,000 pieces of fan mail from readers, more than 500 magazines and fanzines, advertising files, and 1,000 slide transparencies.
The magazine’s 15 issues—from vol. 1 (Dec. 1983) through vol. 15 (1994)—included profiles, editorials, dialogs, interviews, provocations, social commentary and works of poetry by and about an international and multicultural (though New York-centric) cast of ‘writers’ including Dome, Vulcan, CoCo 144, Spon and Dez, as well as hip hop figures Public Enemy, KRS-1, Schooly-D, and others, featuring cartoons, collages, politically motivated caricatures, stylized portraits, and above all else, photo-documentation, much of it in color, of the vibrant but ephemeral street murals and subway car paintings that represent the movement’s heyday. The serial devoted early coverage to the developing HIV/AIDS crisis, apartheid in South Africa, police brutality in American cities, and the impact of the 2nd amendment on inner city crime. It is remembered by many as the most important and most influential of the underground magazines to cover aerosol art during the decade in which New York City street culture went global.
Black Panther Collection, #8069
112 Publications, posters, handbills, flyers and news clippings covering the activities of the Black Panthers and several of its members. Publications include issues of the periodicals The Black Panther, Black Panther community newsletter, Liberated guardian, Open city, and The Berkeley tribe, and pamphlets by Huey P. Newton and Kim Il Sung. Many of the posters, handbills, and flyers concern Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, or Eldridge Cleaver. Other items include a cover proof for If they come in the morning by Angela Y. Davis.
Archives of Diacritics. # 6988
Records of one of the most important American academic journals in the field of literary theory and criticism, based at Cornell, 1971-2000: administration of the journal, correspondence with authors, design/layout/illustrations, subscriptions and publicity.
Letters from and to Ernst and Ernst-Robert Curtius, 1841-1956. # 6957
153 manuscript letters documenting the intellectual, political, and social life in Germany and France over three generations, the most important source for the prominent Curtius family, along with the papers kept at Bonn University.
Rave Collection, #8068
The collection consists of more than 500 rave flyers and stickers, primarily from San Francisco, together with five related newsletters and pamphlets. The materials document San Francisco’s rapid growth into one of the most important cities on the world rave circuit. The flyers range from simple photocopies to professionally produced, four-color dye-cut handouts featuring many of the most popular artists and DJs of the time, such as Moby, Deee-Lite, Prodigy, Todd Terry, Juan Atkins, Peter Tong, Sasha, Roger Sanchez, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, and many others. Also included are a dozen or more flyers from show promoters, lifestyle retailers (neo-head shops and fashion boutiques), spiritual organizations, and related art exhibitions. The flyers reflect the growing sophistication of the rave scene during the period and its various subcategories such as house, trance, techno, drum and bass, hardcore and others. Performers and DJs represented include Moby, Shamen, Deee-Lite, Rozalla, Prodigy, Daft Punk, The Crystal Method, Fluke, Tony Largo, Markie-Mark, Neon Leon, DJ Ghost, Todd Terry, Peter Avila, Danny Morales, Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Sasha (Welsh), “Little Louie” Vega, DJ Dimitri, Peter Tong, Juan Atkins, DJ Sanchez, DJ Phil Smart , Graeme Park, DJ Destructo, Yagi, and DJ Dag.
Note: subsequent to the arrival of this collection, RMC purchased another 4,000 rave flyers documenting the rave scene in the United Kingdom ca. 1988-2000.
Richie “SEEN” Mirando Archive, #8073
Over 149 original drawings and 370 original photographs, comprising nearly all that remains of the original sketches used for some of the most famous subway trains ever painted, the artist’s collection of original photographs of his work (yard and station shots in addition to action shots of paintings in progress), and the artist’s collection of original drawings by other United Artists crew members and collaborators such as Pjay, Mitch 77, Duster, Billy 167, Mad, RAL2 and Zoom. Also, two black books, one that belonged to Seen’s brother Mad, and which contains some early Seen color drawings, and Pjay’s black book from his most prolific 1980-1981 period. The collection also contains ephemera including gallery flyers, newspaper articles, and the rare original Style Wars New York “sneak preview” poster with an original outline by Duster on the reverse.
Los Crudos Collection, #8065
A collection of items documenting the Chicago-based Latino hardcore punk band Los Crudos (1991-1998), including posters, flyers, handbills, lyric sheets, LP inserts, record covers, audiocassette tape covers, and other ephemera. All are from the collection of Martín Sorrondeguy, founder and lead singer of the group. The materials reflect the engagement of the band in progressive cultural and political issues, including Latino and immigrant rights, anti-racism organizing, feminism, critiques of violence in gang culture, sexuality, and critiques of mainstream popular culture. Los Crudos identified publicly as a straightedge band that rejected alcohol and drug use. The materials in the collection are primarily in English, but with a considerable amount of Spanish-language content, as well, plus at least one handbill in Portuguese. The collection documents performances of the band in Brazil, Canada, France, Japan and Mexico, in a number of cases sponsored by anarchist and libertarian left organizations. Posters and handbills in the collection also reflect concerts in cities around the United States, including Chicago; Los Angeles; Madison, Wisc; Paramus, N.J.; and Tempe, Ariz.
Janet Hamil Archive featuring the papers of Patti Smith, #8062
The Janet Hamill Archive contains extensive materials that document the life and work of Janet Hamill. The archive additionally illuminates Hamill’s unique relationship with her longtime friend, poet, writer, singer-songwriter and artist Patti Smith. Included are correspondence (approximately 380 letters), manuscripts, journals, notebooks, diaries (several thousand pages dated 1967-2007) and photographs documenting Hamill’s work. Also included are materials pertaining to Patti Smith consisting of correspondence (approximately 100 letters), manuscripts and notes concerning the book Just Kids (approximately 1,000 pages) and photographs of and by Patti Smith.
Los Angeles Punk Collection
Archive of material from the Los Angeles punk scene assembled by a passionate music fan between 1982 and 1992. Materials include over 250 flyers, with a half-dozen featuring artwork by Raymond Pettibon; 10 broadsides/posters; 40 band-related stencils that were likely used to decorate band gear, performance space or posters; more than 55 punk magazines, both amateur and professionally produced; nearly a dozen stickers of punk bands; over 50 ticket stubs for shows at various venues around L.A.; and other assorted ephemera including political and religious handouts distributed to show attendees. Music represented ranges from original Los Angeles bands (The Dickies and X) to pioneering hardcore bands (Circle Jerks, The Middle Class, Wasted Youth, The Mentors, and T.S.O.L.), crossover thrash (Suicidal Tendencies and D.I.), altrock/punk (The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Religion, and Social Distortion), and a few mainstream recording artists who visited the L.A. area (David Bowie, Pink Floyd, James Lee Hooker, and Deep Purple).
AND: Arriving Soon!!
The Amsterdam News Photo Archive
Cornell University Library has purchased the Amsterdam News Photo Archive containing 324 linear feet of material, over 130,000 photo prints and over 4,000 pieces of ephemera. Founded in 1909 by James H. Anderson, the New York Amsterdam News is one of the oldest African-American owned and run newspapers in the country. Initially focused on local news in New York in general and Harlem in particular, the Amsterdam News broadened its scope to include national news under the guidance of editor Dr. C.B. Powell in the 1930s. By the 1960s, the newspaper had become a major voice in the national African-American community, offering extensive coverage of the civil rights movement. Beginning in 1982, the newspaper was edited by Wilbert A. Tatum, under whose guidance the newspaper remained a spirited voice in local and national affairs. In 1996, Tatum turned control of the newspaper over to his daughter, Elinor Tatum, who remains the publisher and editor-in-chief.
Containing material spanning 83 years (1920-2012), the archive includes photographs and related material covering a broad range of topics, with a particular focus on day-to-day life in New York’s African-American community during the 20th century. The subjects include civil rights marches and protests, but also church events, high school graduations, local politics, and fashion. The materials in the archive include vintage silver gelatin prints, negatives (including many unpublished images), contact sheets, Polaroids, wire photos, and halftone prints. As the working photo archive of a continuously-published newspaper, many of the images have retouching; attached captions, press releases, and cover letters; and printer’s instructions. In addition to photographs, the archive includes ephemera and manuscript material, including newspaper article drafts, typescript and mimeographed speeches, correspondence, event programs, magazine and newspaper clippings, employment applications, press releases, and newspaper production materials. The materials constitute an unparalleled resource for the study of African-American life in the 20th century.
The bulk of the materials range from the mid-1940s through the mid-1990s. The materials are divided into 13 series, reflecting the organization of the materials in the AM News offices. A major sub-series of the collection is the archive of Mel Tapley, who began working for the Amsterdam News in 1942 and served as entertainment editor until his retirement in 1997. The Mel Tapley archive includes a wide variety of material, including correspondence, manuscript and typescript articles and notes, artwork, press kits, publicity photos, and printing plates for comic strips drawn by Tapley.
Photographers represented include Bert Andrews, Kwame Brathwaite, Al Burley, James C. Campbell, Curt Clemons, Juanita M. Cole, Karl Crutchfield, L. St. Clair Dummett, Monroe S. Frederick II, James Gilbert, Dave Greene, Austin Hansen, Tex Harris, Bob Head, Cecil Layne, David McAdams, Bill Moore, Allen Morgan, Vondel Nichols, Lem Peterkin, George M. West, and Lloyd Yearwood. Photo agencies and services represented include Pictorial Enterprise, Wide World Photo, Harris Photo, News Voice International, Rapid News Photo, United Press International, Negro Press Photo Service, Wagner International Photos, and Ace Creative Photos.
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Vanderbilt University has recently created a fascinating digital archive of primary sources compiled by Robert Penn Warren for his book “Who Speaks for the Negro?” In 1965, Warren traveled the country speaking to many civil rights leaders. The recorded interviews, transcripts, and associated correspondence and other material are now available online.« go back — keep looking »