Finding Sources

This page lists a variety of kinds of sources and offers links to resources for exploring them. We start with two general resources: HOLLIS and HathiTrust.

Searching in HOLLIS

It is important to find the proper Subject terms for your topic and use them as well as any keywords that occur to you.  This is discussed on the HOLLIS page. Any pertinent book published during your era may be a primary source, but certain kinds of primary sources, including originally unpublished sources such as letters and diaries, have particular terms attached to their Subject terms in a HOLLIS record.  These are listed on the HOLLIS page and explained below. These terms are best searched in HOLLIS+. . Use the HOLLIS (not Everywhere) tab and change Anywhere to Subject for cleanest results.

For example, Sources usually refers to published collections of primary sources of several different types. 

India AND family AND Sources  [Use caps for AND]


Women and empire, 1750-1939: primary sources on gender and Anglo-imperialism, ed. by Susan K. Martin et al. Abingdon, UK ; New York : Routledge ; Tokyo : Synapse Editions, 2009. 5 v.
Vol. 4: India. Offers articles and book excerpts by women.
Detailed contents

Women in Colonial India: historical documents and sources, ed. by Pramod K. Nayar. Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge, 2013. 5 volumes
Contents: Volume 1. The woman question -- Volume 2. Female infanticide -- Volume 3. Sati -- Volume 4. Education -- Volume 5. Health and marriage.

Searching in HathiTrust & Other Digital Libraries

Hathitrust is a huge general digital library similar to, and partly overlapping in content with, Google Books and Internet Archive but with some special features.  You can do a full text search over the whole collection of millions of books and journals and then effectively refine the results Use Full Text Advanced Search. Thus, the word Sati (widow burning) is found 666 times in English-language works published in India from 1900-1909. You can search for a keyword in, say, travel books (Subject term: "Description and travel") on a certain country for a specified time period.

Other Digital Libraries and Collections

Besides HathiTrust there are many other digital libraries, some general - some specialized, which offer digitized primary sources.  Major examples for this course are:

Digital Colonial Documents (India) offers a variety of sources.

Digital Repository of Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics is an enormous collection

Digital South Asia Library

Empire On-Line offers images of original documents and printed materials relating to the British Empire.

Gerritsen Collection--Women's History Online, 1543-1945 includes over 4000 monographs, primarily in English, German, and French, plus 265 periodical titles.

Internet Indian History Sourcebook


Sometimes you can find a bibliography, a publication that lists other publications, on your subject. Search in HOLLIS with the word Bibliography as a Subject keyword search (It needs to be Subject keyword, NOT Keywords anywhere) :  "foreign relations" AND India AND bibliography.  You can use Keywords anywhere for your other keywords in Advanced search.  Browsing a bibliography offers a different experience from database searching with keywords.


India and the world affairs : a bibliography of works by alien scholars, 1947-1983, by K.G. Tyagi, Abida Vajahat. Delhi : Pinka Agencies, 1985, 132 p.

Primary Documents for the Study of Indian History, c. 1890-2000

Census and Statistics

The Digital Repository of Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics has digitized the Census volumes. For an overview of the whole series see India census 1872-1951; a check list and index.

Harvard has the Indian censuses on microfiche, some in the Government Documents/Microforms Collection. some (with HOLLIS records for individual volumes) in the Tozzer Library, and some in CRL (Center for Research Libraries, Chicago) available via Interlibrary Loan. Search HOLLIS for this material by searching for example “Census of India, 1931” (in quotes, “”).

India census 1872-1951; a check list and index lists the contents of the individual microfiches.

Digital Colonial Documents (India)  offers the reports (summaries based on the census for 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901. The reports may also be found in House of Commons Parliamentary Papers.

Questions lists the information collected in each census.

Statistical abstract for British India, 1840-1940
Digital South Asia Library (1840-1920)
House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (1840-1940). Search statistical abstract India in Paper title field, limiting by date

Statistical abstract for British India with statistics, where available, relating to certain Indian states. Calcutta : Superintendent Government Printing, India, 1923-1947. 
Microforms (Lamont) | Microfiche SC 453 (1911/1921-1946/1947)

Diaries and Other Personal Writings

Many diaries, letters and  other personal writings are available in print or full text online.

To find them in HOLLIS search: India AND "foreign relations" AND (diaries OR archives OR correspondence).

Autobiographies usually bear the Subject term Biography, and so are not distinguished from biographies. The search Autobiographies OR Autobiography yields many autobiographies, but by no means all.

First-hand accounts of life in other countries may be found in travel books.  Find them in HOLLIS by combining the name of your country with the phrase "Description and travel".

Economic Literature

EconLit (1969- ) indexes articles from over 525 journals. Since 1987 includes books and dissertations. Earlier years available in print in Index to Economic Journals (1886- ) and Index of economic articles in collective volumes (1960- )

Economist Historical Archive (1843-2004).

Index of Indian economic journals, 1916-1965. Poona, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics; Orient Longman, 1971, 302 p.


To find films in HOLLIS+, search your topic keywords, then on the left side of the results screen, look at Resource Type and choose video/film.

To find books about films about your topic, search Topic keywords AND "in motion pictures"

EVIA Digital Archive--Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis

Other sources for film and video are listed in the Library Research Guide for History, which also has pages for television and radio.


A gazetteer is an alphabetical place name list with information on former names, physical features, social statistics, population, etc., depending on the particular gazetteer. Often a very rich resource.

Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909-1931. (Digital South Asia Library)

India, district and provincial gazetteers. (4050 microfiches)
Microforms (Lamont) Microfiche W 3064
Microforms (Lamont) INDEX Microfiche W 3064 [= Guide ]
Brief guide to the microfiche and to the Indian gazetteers in general

Numerous gazetteers in paper format can be found by searching India Gazetteers in HOLLIS.


ARTstor offers innumerable images from art but also from a variety of humanities and social science fields. Other. sources for images are listed in the Library Research Guide for History, including sources for advertisements..

For depictions in art: Guide to Research in History of Art & Architecture

Combining your topical words with the phrase "Pictorial Works" in HOLLIS yields books that are largely composed of pictures.

Labor Sources

Report of the Royal commission on labour in India : [and Evidence]. London : H.M. Stationery off., 1931.19 v.
Also available in House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. Search Cmd. 3883 in Paper Number field.

League of Nations and UN

Research Guide: League of Nations Documents

Yearbook of the League of Nations 1920-1928
Heinonline version

Research Guide: United Nations Documents

Library Research Guide for History 1068 United Nations: A Global History

Legal Sources

Anglo-Indian Legal History (University of Pennsylvania)

Mitra Sharafi’s South Asian Legal History Resources (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

India Legal Research Guide: Introduction

Manupatra comprehensive database of Indian law. Includes cases and bare acts (federal and selected states), tribunal and commission orders, bills in parliament and ordinances, notifications and circulars. Supreme Court cases 1950-present ; High Courts (varies by jurisdiction). More information.

See Research Guide for History 97g: "What is Legal History?" for more sources


In HOLLIS the following terms are found on literary works and works of literary scholarship.

India -- Politics and government -- 1947- -- Fiction (or Drama, or Poetry) refers to literary works
Bangladesh -- In literature refers to literary scholarship.

South and Southeast Asian Literature (1825 to present) includes literature written in English by writers from or culturally identified with South and Southeast Asia. Most of the works included are from Largely late colonial to the present.


Sources for magazines (popular periodicals) are listed on the in the General and Popular Indexes pages of Finding Articles in General and Popular Periodicals (North America and Western Europe), which also has a page on women's magazines.


See Guide to Newspapers and Newspaper Indexes

Parliament (U.K)

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers includes committee reports, draft bills, and other material emanating from the House of Commons. Also includes numerous reports submitted to Parliament by other government departments.   For more on Parliamentary papers.

Parliamentary Debates: Historic Hansard

Sources relating to proceedings and legislation in the two Houses of Parliament at Westminster (British History Online)

For digital, microfilm, and printed sources see Great Britain: Guide to the Documents