Finding Archival Sources

At Harvard

  1. Search HOLLIS Classic
    • by author [papers of an individual or family, or the records of an organization]
    • by subject [writings by or about an individual, or topical subjects]
    • or by keyword  [You can use the "expanded search" to limit your searches to manuscript records (see "format" choices).  You can also "modify" search results to include only manuscript format.]

    Be sure to read the entire "Biography" (or "History") and "Scope and Content" note; these sections contain valuable information about the contents of the collection.

    Write down the call number information (manuscripts at Andover-Harvard begin with the call number "bMS")

  2. Look for the finding aid (a.k.a., folder list, register, inventory, guide)

    There are over 1,000 finding aids from manuscript repositories at Harvard available online at OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System). But this is just a small percentage of what is available at Harvard.

    Many Andover-Harvard registers are available on our website.

    Finding aids for pre-1986 collections at Houghton Library are found in: Inventories of Manuscripts in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. Alexandria, Va., U.S.A.: Chadwyck-Healey, [1986?]. 348 microfiche; 11 x 15 cm. [Houghton: Reading Room HRR 1 F; Widener: Microfiche RR 47]

  3. Learn about the repository

    An appointment is necessary to use any manuscript or archival collection at Andover-Harvard Library. See the Requesting Services page for more information.

    Other repositories at Harvard include:

    For information about the many archives and manuscripts at Harvard, also see the Harvard Library website.

    In general, manuscript materials are kept in closed stacks and may only be used in a designated reading room. You will probably be asked to leave all materials outside the reading room except pencils, note cards, paper, and/or a computer. Access to some collections may be restricted.

Beyond Harvard

  1. Archive Finder. [Provides information about primary source materials from over 5,000 manuscript repositories in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. It includes records, with indexes, for approximately 100,000 manuscript and other collections. It brings together information from the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), the National Inventory of Documentary Sources (NIDS), and the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the UK and Ireland. Many Harvard records will be found here.] Harvard Library E-Resource.

    ArchiveGrid. [This database contains nearly a million records (largely summary descriptions) of archives, manuscripts, and special collections. Contact information for repositories is also available.] Harvard Library E-Resource.

    Index to Personal Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, 1959-1984. Alexandria: Chadwyck-Healey, 1988. 2 v.; 29 cm. [This has been incorporated into ArchivesUSA, but sometimes it's easier to scan the printed version.] [Ref. Z6620.U5 N32 1988]

    Women's History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States. Ames S. Bower and Andrea Hinding, editors. New York: Bowker, 1979. 2 v.; 29 cm. [v. 1. Collections (listed geographically).--v. 2. Index, edited by Suzanna Moody, is extremely useful.] [Ref. Z7964.U49 W64]

    A Guide to Women's Archival Collections in Repositories Related to the United Church of Christ. [New York, N.Y.: Coordinating Center for Women in Church and Society, United Church of Christ Archives and Historical Council], 1995. xi, 24 p.; 28 cm. [Ref. Z7963.R45 G85 1995]

  2. Five College Archives Digital Access Project. [Gateway to a large digital archive of historical resources found at Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, as well as the University of Massachusetts. The site provides access to digitized information primarily relating to women's history and education.] Free E-Resource.

    Google Scholar. [Because Google Scholar searches the websites of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web, it is more likely to produce "scholarly" results. Free version does not include access to online journal articles.] Harvard Library E-Resource; free version available.