All Countries

The following are some suggestions for countries not, or incompletely, covered in this guide. The archival practices that have evolved in different countries differ greatly.  This page outlines general methods. We have listed a selection of resources for Africa, Asia, and Latin America on another page of this guide

Getting the Lay of the Land

  • Is there a national level (or several regional) collective archival catalog?
  • Are there printed guides describing the country’s archival resources?
  • Does the national archives and its branches hold private as well as government collections?
  • Does the national library hold archival collections?
  • What are the major archival repositories, and do they have printed and/or online guides?
  • Do other countries, perhaps colonial or other European or North American countries, have archival collections derived from colonial government, scholarly collecting, government foreign relations, missionary work, or other activities? See Displaced Archives

1. Look at national archives and national library web sites.

Look at the websites of your country's national, and other, archives. Also look at the national archives websites for colonizing countries or neighboring countries, if applicable. Watch for:

  • Country level guides and databases
  • Archival collection search engines, including repository catalogs
  • Lists of alienated collections (often in the archives of colonizing countries)
  • Archival printing, microfilming and digitizing programs which may allow remote viewing of records. 

Search for the websites of other archives using the available archival directories.

2. Do structured web searches.

Look for online research guides to a particular geographic region or topic.

Try a general Google search on, say, Angola archives.  This search can be focused in Google Advanced Search, and by using country domain names. 

Do a Google Advanced Search:

  • All these words: country name, archives (do separate searches for archival, manuscripts).
  • Any of these words: guide research resources

For any of these searches, use the “site or domain” box to search within just .edu List of country domain names.

Example online guide: African manuscripts and archives (British Library)

Look for topic-specific archival institutions, including disciplinary history centers.  

These often compile lists of archive collections and house collections without other homes.

Example: Center for the History of Physics, NY

Google search example: Literary archives research Germany

Do Google searches for digital collections by region/subject. 

In Google Advanced Search

  • all these words: library [your topic keywords]
  • any of these words: "digital archives" "digital collection" "digital library" "online collection" "primary sources"
  • site or domain: .edu  [or ac.uk or country domain, etc.]

List of country domain names.

Search geographic-specific digital archives for primary sources

See the Digital Libraries/Collections by Region or Language section on the Library Research Guide for History for lists of digital libraries and lists of digital collections according to specific geographic regions. 

3. Search online library catalogs (HOLLIS, WorldCat). 

Look for published catalogs, bibliographies, and guides of archival holdings

Search HOLLIS and WorldCat (a collective catalog of thousands of libraries including Harvard. Also includes online sources, often on separate records from the print version).  Printed sources are often valuable and are commonly not included on websites.  Example   --    Example

Search:

Look especially for:

  • Repository catalogs Example [Always note the Subject terms on good records: Kenya -- History -- Sources -- Bibliography -- Catalogs] Example
  • Repository, country, or continental-level research guides Example
  • Archival periodicals. Example

We have listed a selection of guides for Africa, Asia, and Latin America on another page of this guide

Look for printed genealogy guides 

Example: Subject: India Genealogy yields:

Journeys of discovery: ancestral searches in India, by Shubha Singh. New Delhi: Shipra Publications, 2012, 149 pages. HOLLIS Record 

Look for microfilm or printed copies of archival collections from your geographic region or on your topic. 

Search HOLLIS and WorldCat (a collective catalog of thousands of libraries including Harvard. Also includes online sources, often on separate records from the print version).  Printed sources are often valuable and are commonly not included on websites:

Look especially for:

  • Repository, country, or continental-level bibliographies of printed or microfilmed sources (Example)
  • Published (printed) archival material   Example
  • Microfilmed archival material Example (Microfilms themselves at Syracuse University (Example)

4. Search in historical periodical indexes.

Look for descriptions of an archive's holdings in:

  • bibliographies of a region or repository
  • repository guides
  • articles about a researcher's experience using a particular archive
  • articles written using the archive's holdings as sources

General index: Historical Abstracts with Full Text

Bibliographie francophone sur l’archivistique

For former British colonies/possessions: Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH)

Historical Periodicals: By Country/Region

5. Look for accounts of user’s experience using a particular archive. 

6. Search in digital libraries. 

Search general digital libraries for research that made use of your country’s archives

The three big digital libraries, HathiTrust, Internet Archive, Google Books, allow full text searching of millions of books and periodicals.  Searching a repository name as a phrase (in “”) may yield books and articles reporting research.