Subject Guides (U.S.)

Subject guides describe archival resources on a particular topic, bringing together information on the holdings of many repositories. They are compiled by subject experts who may be aware of collections not found in Archive Finder, ArchiveGrid, SNAC, or WorldCat.

Printed subject guides can be found by determining the appropriate subject terms for your field using a keyword search and looking at the subject headings on pertinent records, or by going directly to the Red Books of Library of Congress Subject terms in the Reference Room. Do a Subject browse, " Anthropology" and look for subdivisions relating to archives and manuscripts, e.g., "Anthropology Archives," "Anthropology History Sources," "Anthropology Manuscripts," "Psychology History Archival resources," "Psychology History Manuscripts," etc. Try a Subject browse by occupation, e.g.: "Photographers," "Physicists," "Authors, American". Use the standard search engines and Internet directories for your discipline to find subject guides on the Web.

Subject guides for UK repositories.

General | Anthropology | Arts/Photography | Business | Education | Ethnic/Civil Rights | Government | Immigrants | Labor | Law | Literature/Journalism 
Medicine | Military | Publishing | Religion | Science/Technology | Social Science | Women's History


Hidden Collections Registry reports newly processed archival and special collections.

DeWitt, Donald L. Guides to archives and manuscript collections in the United States: an annotated bibliography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994) lists subject guides by subject, and regional and repository guides under regional sections. Sections on "Foreign Repositories holding U.S.-Related Records" and "U.S. Repositories Holding Foreign Records and Manuscripts".

DeWitt, Donald L. Articles describing archives and manuscript collections in the United States: an annotated bibliography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997) is useful but not exhaustive. Announcements and descriptions of sets of personal papers and short repository, regional, and subject guides are often published as periodical articles. Searches may also be done in the relevant periodical indexes. Guides to periodical indexes.
LOCATION: Widener: RR 627.35
Internet Archive full text

Downs, Robert Bingham. American library resources: a bibliographical guide (Chicago: American Library Association, 1951) lists references to published descriptions of book and manuscript collections arranged by subject, with some personal names as subjects for literature and history.
There are three supplements: 1950-1961, 1961-1970, 1971-1980. Indexed in: Keller, Clara D. American library resources cumulative index, 1870-1970. Chicago: American Library Association, 1981.

Subject collections: a guide to special book collections and subject emphases as reported by university, college, public, and special libraries and museums in the United States and Canada, by Lee Ash and William G. Miller. 7th ed. New Providence, N.J.: R.R. Bowker, 1993. 2 v.
HOLLIS record

Special collections in college and university libraries, compiled by Modoc Press, Inc. New York: Macmillan; London: Collier Macmillan, 1989, 639 p.
HOLLIS record
Internet Archive Full text


Guide to Anthropological Fieldnotes and Manuscripts in Archival Repositories

List of Ethnographic Archives (Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records)


Collection Surveys (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian)

Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America
--American art collectors, dealers, agents and advisors

Paris: a guide to archival sources for American art history, by Susan Grant. Washington, DC: Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1997, 89 p.
Fine Arts | Reading Room | RFA281.
Online version

Photographers: a sourcebook for historical research. Brownsville, Calif.: Carl Mautz Pub., 1991.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: Reading Room RFA1805.70

The AAM guide to provenance research, by Nancy H. Yeide, Konstantin Akinsha, Amy L. Walsh. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2001, 304 p.
--Appendix D Dealer archives and locations, p. 214-242

World-Wide Directory of Repositories holding Archives of Literature & Art


Business History in the United States: A Guide to Archival Collections

Business history in the United States: a guide to archival collections, ed. by Terry Snyder. Washington, DC : German Historical Institute, 2010. 390 p
Baker Business | Historical Collections -- Reference | Z7164.C81 B976 2010

Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada


History of Education Society Archival Resources

Ethnic/Civil Rights

Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Guide to information resources in ethnic museum, library, and archival collections in the United States, by Lois J. Buttlar and Lubomyr Roman Wynar. Greenwood Press, 1996.


Presidential Papers lists published papers (public and private) of U.S. presidents and provides information on finding their unpublished papers.

Burton, Dennis A. A guide to manuscripts in the Presidential Libraries. College Park, Md.: Research Materials Corp., c1985.
LOCATION: Widener: RR 627.26.15
--The Presidential libraries house numerous sets of papers of Presidential associates and staff.

Center for Legislative Archives (National Archives): Congressional Collections

Guide to research collections of former members of the United States House of Representatives, 1789-1987. House document; 100th Congress, 2nd session, no. 100-171. Bicentennial ed. Washington, DC: Office for the Bicentennial of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. House of Representatives 1988.
LOCATION: Documents (Lamont): US Doc 540. 55
LOCATION: Kennedy Sch of Gov: Ref Z1223.Z7 G85 1988
LOCATION: Law School: Special Coll. Ref CD3043.G84 1988
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC JK1316.G85x 1988

Guide to research collections of former United States senators, 1789-1995: a listing of archival repositories housing the papers of former senators, related collections, and oral history interviews. Washington: Supt. of Docs., G.P.O., 1995.
LOCATION: Documents (Lamont): Y 1.1/3:103-35
LOCATION: Law School: Special Coll Ref CD3043.P39 1995

Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989. Bicentennial ed. ed. U.S. Senate Bicentennial Publication. Washington: U.S. Senate, 1989.

Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989. Washington, D.C.: U.S. House of Representatives, 1989.

A Guide to the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives. Norman, Okla.: Carl Albert Congressional and Studies Center Congressional Archives., 1995.


East Central European migrations during the Cold War : a handbook, edited by Anna Mazurkiewicz. Berlin; Boston : De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2019. 1 online resource (478 pages) 
HOLLIS Record with online version 
--Notes on archival repositories in the various countries and abroad.

Guide to the archival materials of the German-speaking emigration to the United States after 1933, by John M. Spalek,  Charlottesville: Published for the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia by the University Press of Virginia, 1978- .


Labor Archives in the United States and Canada: A Directory

Labor history archives in the United States: a guide for researching and teaching. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, c1992.
LOCATION: Baker Business: HD8066.L33 1992
LOCATION: Lamont: REF.ROOM HD8066.Z99 L319 1992x
LOCATION: Schlesinger: Ref. 026.331 L433l
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC HD8066.Z99 L319 1992x


National Death Penalty Archive


Akeroyd, Joanne V. Where are their papers?: A union list locating the papers of forty-two contemporary American poets and writers. Storrs: University of Connecticut Library, 1976.
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC PS325.Z99 A43x

Biggers, Shirley Hoover. American author houses, museums, memorials, and libraries: a state-by-state guide. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2000.
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC PS141.B54 2000
--Manuscript collections kept in one-author museums and libraries are sometimes not reported to OCLC, ArchiveGrid, NUCMC, etc. The only way of finding them is by contacting the museum or library, or viewing their web site.

Bracken, James K. Reference works in British and American literature. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1998.
LOCATION: Widener: RR 3102.1
--Arranged by literary author. Includes publications on manuscripts, and author journals and newsletters.

Caswell, L. S. 1989. Guide to sources in American journalism history. NY: Greenwood Press, 319 pp.
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC P90.Z99 B53x no. 2
--Guide to archival and manuscript sources, pp. 99-319. List of collections arranged by state and indexed.

Dictionary of literary biography. Detroit : Gale Research, 1978- .
LOCATION: Widener: RR 3129.5
--Locations of manuscript collections for major figures. Gives only the major collection(s) for each person. See the cumulative index in the last volume.
The DLB is indexed by name in the Literary Index

Innes, C. D. Twentieth-century British and American theatre: a critical guide to archives. Aldershot, England; Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1999.
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC PN2266.Z99 I56 1999x

Robbins, J. Albert. American literary manuscripts: a checklist of holdings in academic, historical, and public libraries, museums, and authors' homes in the United States. 2nd ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, c1977.
Internet Archive Full Text

The Transcendentalists: a review of research and criticism. Reviews of research / the Modern Language Association of America. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1984.
--Chapters on 28 Transcendentalists include sections on manuscripts.

The following biographical dictionaries of living authors include, in a few cases, locations of manuscript collections. Writers are dropped when they die, so you may need to consult earlier editions.

  • Contemporary dramatists. 1st -5th ed. London: St. James Press, 1973 -1993. 5 v.
  • Contemporary literary critics. 2nd ed. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1982.
  • Contemporary novelists. London: St. James Press; NY: St. Martin's Press, 1972-
  • Contemporary poets. 6th ed. NY: St. James Press, 1996.
  • St. James guide to crime and mystery writers. 4th ed. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 1996.
  • St. James guide to science fiction writers. 4th ed. London: St. James Press, 1996.
  • Twentieth-century children's writers. 4th ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1995.
  • Twentieth-century romance and historical writers. 2nd ed. Chicago; London: St. James Press, 1990. [1st ed: Twentieth-century romance and gothic writers]
  • Twentieth-century western writers. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1982.

World-Wide Directory of Repositories holding Archives of Literature & Art


Guide to Library and Archival Collections of African Americans in Medicine and Biomedical Research

History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium


Official military historical offices and sources, ed. by Robin Higham. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000. 2 v.

U.S. military records : a guide to federal and state sources, Colonial America to the present, by James C. Neagles. Salt Lake City, Utah : Ancestry, 1994, xiv, 441 p.


Albinski, N. B. Guide to the archives of publishers, journals, and literary agents in North American Libraries. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Yearbook, 1993, pp. 202-225.
LOCATION: Widener: RR 3129.5.5

Albinski, N. B. A Guide to Publishers' Archives in the United States

Guide to book publishers' archives. [U.S.] New York: Book Industry Study Group, Inc., 1996.
LOCATION: Houghton: Manuscript Department MS Ref-41
LOCATION: Widener: RR 101.18
--20th century U. S. publishers and their predecessors. Includes archives still in the possession of their creators as well as those in repositories. Includes many small press, religious, immigrant, ideological and other publishers.

Archives of British and American Publishers
--Describes microfilm set of archives of some major publishers.

Publishers' Records: Finding Lists and Special Collections (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Society)


Catholic Research Resources Portal

“Awash in a Sea of Archives”: Key Research Sources in the United States for the Study of Mission and World Christianity, by Angelyn Dries. Theological Librarianship, v. 5, no. 2 (2012), pp. 23-28.

Theological Librarianship publishes many guides and announcements of archival and other sources. Searchable.

Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Archival Resources on the History of Jewish Women in America

Women religious history sources: a guide to repositories in the United States, ed by Evangeline Thomas, Joyce L. White and Lois Wachtel. New York : R.R. Bowker, 1983. xxvii, 329 p.


Elliott, C. A. History of Science in the United States: Research Aids for the Nineteenth Century: Guides to Manuscript Resources and Special Collections.

Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation (Smithsonian Institution) Archives database contains records for invention, technology, and science-related collections in archives, libraries, historical societies, and museums in the US and Canada.

Environmental History Archival Collections Database (Forest History Society)
--Covers environmental as well as forest history. New entries are printed as Biblioscope: An Archival Guide and Bibliography, published in Environmental history (1996- ) which continues Forest and Conservation History (1990-95).

International Archival Catalog (ICOS) (Center for the History of Physics, American Institute of Physics)
--Complemented by full-text Physics History Finding Aids

[Mathematicians] List of Archival Collections. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society.
--List of mathematicians with the locations of their papers.

New, newly available or underused archival material of interest to historians of medicine are listed monthly in REMEDIA

"Documenting recent science: progress and needs. Appendix C: Catalogs of source materials for science and technology", by Joan Warnow-Blewett. In: Science after '40. (Osiris, 2nd series, 1992, 7: 267-298).
LOCATION: Widener: Sci 65.56 2nd ser.: v.7

Inventory of Sources for History of Twentieth-Century Physics: Report and Microfiche index to 700 000 Letters, by B. R. Wheaton. Stuttgart: Verlag für die Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, 1992, 294 pp., 61 microfiches.
LOCATION: Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche W 4395
Online description.

More sources in the Library Research Guide for the History of Science

Social Science

Directory of popular culture collections. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1989.
LOCATION: Widener: RR 2901. 5

The Hispanic experience in North America : sources for study in the United States, ed. by Lawrence A. Clayton. Columbus : Ohio State University Press, c1992, 189 p.
LOCATION: Tozzer | N.A.SOC. H 624
LOCATION: Widener | WID-LC | E184.S7 H57 1992

A guide to manuscript collections in the history of psychology and related areas, by Michael M. Sokal. & Patrice A. Rafail. Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus International Publications, 1982.
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC BF81.S58 1982

Women's History

Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Archival Resources on the History of Jewish Women in America

Archives and Libraries (WWW Virtual Library: Women's History)

Archives for Research on Women and Gender

Women's Archives Directory

Women's History Research in Archives

Women's history sources: a guide to archives and manuscript collections in the United States. New York: Bowker, 1979.
LOCATION: Andover-Harv. Theol: Ref. Z7964.U49 W64
LOCATION: Schlesinger: Ref. 016.301412 H66w
LOCATION: Widener: RR 4761.16.5
--Vol. 1: Collections arranged by state and city; vol. 2: Index of names and topics.