Explore your topic
Introducing Summon - which makes it possible to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more.
However, Summon doesn't search everything that the library owns or subscribes to so you will still need to search other resources to find everything that you need. Summon also doesn't let you do sophisticated searches that you may be used to doing in specific databases or the library catalogue.
When to use Summon
- When starting research on a topic
- If you are not sure which databases to use
For assistance using Summon please contact the Research Help Desk.
Use reference materials to get started on your research. These can be found in the Reference area of the library, main floor behind the Research Help Desk.
- America History and Life (covers Canada and the United States)
- Historical Abstracts (covers the rest of the world)
TIP: America History and Life and Historical Abstracts can be searched together:
Open either one of these databases
At the TOP of the search page click on "Choose Databases"
Tick off America History and Life and Historical Abstracts
Begin your search
- American Memory
- American Periodicals Series Online
- American State Papers, 1789-1838
- Avalon Project
- Bibliography of British and Irish History
- Bibliography of Native North Americans
- British History Online
- C19, The Nineteenth Century index
- Google Scholar
By connecting via Carleton Library, you will be able to seamlessly connect to the fulltext of articles that are part of the library's collection.
- HAPI Online
- Humanities Full Text
- Humanities Index (previously British Humanities Index)
- Periodicals Archive Online
- Readers Guide Retrospective
Finding primary sources in the library collection
Use specific words to locate primary sourcees in the Library catalogue, such as: correspondence, sources, diaries, letters, personal naratives. KEYWORD search examples:
- [PERSON’S NAME] and s:correspondence
- [PERSON’S NAME] and s:diaries
- [PERSON’S NAME] and s:letters
- [KEYWORD] and s:sources
Historical Digital Collections - by Topic
Documents range from Columbus' letter to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1494 to President Bill Clinton's inaugural address in 1993. The list is strongest in 18th and 20th century documents, but the whole of U.S. history is covered.
- American Memory: Historical Collections of the National Digital Library
- American Periodical Series Online
- The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
- Digital History (University of Houston)
- Early Americas Digital Archive (University of Maryland)
A collection of electronic texts originally written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820.
- Eighteenth Century Collections Online
- Eighteenth Century Journals
- Empire Online
- Historical Text Archive
- Internet Archive: American Libraries
The site has a wealth of American heritage materials.
- JCB Image Collections (Brown University)
Includes Archive of Early American Images, Maps, and Political Cartoons
A digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology.
- Making of America Journals
- Mass Observation Online
- New York Public Library Digital Gallery
- Nineteenth Century Documents Project
This collection includes accurate transcriptions of many important and representative primary texts from nineteenth century American history, with special emphasis on those sources that shed light on sectional conflict and transformations in regional identity.
An online archive of digitized, full-image journal articles offering access to international scholarly literature in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. An excellent source for Primary Source journal articles. Articles date back to 1802.
Art and Culture
- Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture: Image and Texts Collections (University of Wisconsin)
- Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South
- Civil Rights Digital Library
- Civil Rights History Project (Library of Congress)
- Freedom Riders
- Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
- The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University
- Martin Luther King Jr. Archives
- White Hate Groups (FBI records)
- American Civil War Digital Collections: Letters and Diaries (University of Delaware)
- American Civil War Manuscript Guides (Virginia Tech)
- Civil War Band Books
- Civil War Diaries and Letters (Iowa Digital Library)
- Civil War Era Digital Collection (Gettysburg College)
Government and Politics
This collection comprises the most detailed primary source from the 19th century to the present for Britain, its colonies and the wider world. These are working documents of the governments for all areas of social, political, economic and foreign policy.
Provides access to primary resource material relating to US 20th century foreign policy.
Database of texts from the volumes of all the reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. A rich source of primary source material on all aspects of American history.
Medicine and Science
From the National Library of Medicine (U.S.), includes a wide variety of formats. The collection includes portraits, photographs, caricatures, genre scenes, posters, and graphic art illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine dated from the 15th to 21st century.
Military and War
Some free records available here.
- National Jukebox (Library of Congress)
Thousands of rare, historic recordings and special features available through this free site. It includes early jazz, dance music and opera.
- Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties by Tribe Name (Oklahoma State)
- Ad*Access (Duke University)
Over 7,000 U.S. and Canadian advertisements covering five product categories - Beauty and Hygiene, Radio, Television, Transportation, and World War II propaganda - dated between 1911 and 1955.
- Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
- Illinois Digital Newspapers
- New York Times Archives (1851-2005)
- Wall Street Journal (1889-1991)
- Washington Post (1877-1992)
- Times Digital Archive (1785-1992) [U.K.]
- The Guardian (1821-2003) [U.K.]
- The Observer (1791-2003) [U.K.]
The Centre for Research Libraries (CRL) holds an extensive collection of foreign newspapers in microform including those from African nations. Borrow from CRL through Interlibrary Loans.
- The Abolition of the Slave Trade
- From Slavery to Freedom: African American Pamphlet collection
- Antislavery in New England
- The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
- Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
- California Underground Railroad (Sacramento State University)
- Friend of Man 1836-1842 (Cornell University)
One of the most significant and little studied newspapers documenting early anti-slavery and other reform movements.
- North American Slave Narratives
- North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements
- Quakers and Slavery
- Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection
Digitized collection of thousands of anti-slavery and abolitionist materials.
Over 100 pamphlets and books published between 1772-1889 dealing with the legal status of slavery
- Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History (HEARTH) (Cornell University Library)
HEARTH is a core electronic collection of books and journals in Home Economics and related disciplines. Titles were published between 1850 and 1950. Excellent primary sources such as Good Housekeeping and Harper's Bazaar among many others.
- Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina)
CENTER FOR RESEARCH LIBRARIES
The Center for Research Libraries (CRL)
A great institution to check for historical documents, newspapers, journals, archives and other sources. "The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. The consortium acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives, and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery." Carleton University Library is a mermber of CRL.
Begin your search for locating U.S. government publications by using the Library catalogue.
- You can do a subject search using GOV DOC Subject
- You can do a keyword search and limit by the location GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS
- You can do a keyword search using words from the name of the agency and from the title
e.g. a:central and a:intelligence and a:agency and t:factbook
- You can search for a particular government agency in Author
- You can search for a particular Title
If you experience difficulty in locating the material that you need, ask for help at the Information Desk in the Maps, Data and Government Information Centre.
- U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1817-1980) with American State Papers (1789-1838)
- House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
- American Memory: Historical Collections of the National Digital Library (Library of Congress)
A digital library of art images. Includes approximately 500,000 images covering art, architecture and archeology.
The Farber Gravestone Collection is an unusual resource containing over 13,500 images documenting the sculpture on more than 9,000 gravestones, most of which were made prior to 1800, in the Northeastern part of the United States.
Includes Archive of Early American Images, Maps, and Political Cartoons
- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Catalog
- LIFE Photos
- New York Public Library Digital Gallery
- Pictures of the Civil War (National Archives)
- Picturing U.S. History
- U.S. History Images
- USC Digital Library
Provides access to over 100,000 photographs, maps, manuscripts, records, texts, and sound recordings owned by USC and collaborating institutions with particular emphasis on materials related to Los Angeles and the Southern California region.
- Behind the veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South
- Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
- Who Speaks for the Negro - Interviews
Collection of streaming educational videos that cover a wide spectrum of disciplines. Contains both clips and full-length videos.
For video material at the Carleton Univeristy library, do a KEYWORD search in the library catalogue and limit "Material Type" to FILM/VIDEO. If you cannot find what you need search the following database:
If you wish to borrow a video listed in Watmedia please fill out our Interfilm Video Request form - do not submit requests directly to Watmedia.
- Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy (Yale University)
- A Biography of America
- Digital History (Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)
- American History - From Revolution to Reconstruction (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
- NINES (Nineteenth Century Scholarship Online)
- U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian
Special Topics in American History
African American History
- The African-American Mosaic (Library of Congress)
- The African American Odyssey (Library of Congress)
- History: African American (University of Washington)
- Images of African Americans from the 19th Century (New York Public Library)
- Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
The Civil War
- Abraham Lincoln Collection (University of Iowa)
- The American Civil War Homepage
- American Civil War Collections (Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library)
Civil War letters and diary entries include transcriptions and digital images of the manuscripts. A valuable source of primary documents. Note that the newspaper collection is available to students at the University of Virginia only.
- Battle Summaries by Campaign
- Battle Summaries by State
- Civil War@Smithsonian
- Civil War History Center
- Civil War Maps Collection (Library of Congress)
- Civil War Trust
- Civil War Women (Duke University)
- The Crisis of the Union: An Electronic Archive of Documents about the Causes, Conduct, and Consequences of the U.S. Civil War (Department of History, University of Pennsylvania)
- MOLLUS Civil War Image Collection
Collection of 23,000 vintage civil war photographs from the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United Stats from the Massachusetts Commandery.
- Selected Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress)
- Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
The Cold War
- The Avalon Project at Yale Law School: The Cold War
- Cold War International History Project
- Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy: The Cold War (Mount Holyoke College)
- The American Colonist's Library: A Treasury of Primary Source Documents
- Classics of American Colonial History
An online magazine devoted to colonial America. Site can be searched by keyword.
Government and Politics
Biographical dictionary of all present and former members of the United States Congress as well as its predecessor, the Continental Congress. Also included are Delegates from territories and the District of Columbia and Resident Commissioners from the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
- Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives / Art and History
- Voting America: United States Politics 1840-2008
Maps & Altases
- America Discovered: A Historical Atlas of North American Exploration
- Atlas of African-American History
- Atlas of Hispanic-American History
- Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States
- British Atlantic, American Frontier (Canadian-American Center)
- Civil War Maps (Library of Congress)
- Cultural Maps in American Studies (University of Virginia)
This site includes U.S. territorial maps from 1775 to 1920 and links to a number of useful exhibits and collections.
The historical map collection has over 30,000 maps and images online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia, and Africa are also represented.
- France in America (Library of Congress)
- Historical Atlas of Native Americans
- Historical Atlas of the United States with original maps
- The Routledge Atlas of America History
- Hotchkiss Map Collection - Confederate Army Maps (Library of Congress)
- Map Collections: 1500-2004 (Library of Congress)
A collection of digital maps from the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress.
- Map History/History of Cartography
- Mapping the African American Past (Columbia University)
- Maps etc. Early America 1400-1800
- Academic Info: American Women's History
- American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States
- Discovering American Women's History
- National Women's History Project
- ViVa: A Bibliography of Women's History in Historical and Women's Studies Journals
The ViVa database provides citations to over 8,000 articles on the subject of women's and gender history published between 1975 and 2004 in historical and women's studies journals.
- Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender, SUNY)