You will want to keep track of where you have searched. Also, of particular importance in historical work, list personal names, organizations, and terminology (which has changed over the years) which you can then use for searching in full text primary source databases.
How the Guide is Organized
Background and Context offers help in starting out, in getting an overview of your topic and putting it in contemporary context
Secondary Sources lists ways of finding historical scholarship
The Primary Finding Sources page offers an overview of the kinds of primary sources and links to additional information in the other pages of this guide or in other research guides.
Citing Sources introduces citation form guides and citation management software (Zotero, etc.).
The remaining pages list detailed resources for the kinds of primary sources mentioned in the Finding Primary Sources page.
Getting What You Need
How can you get your hands/eyes on material?
HOLLIS is the center of the Library ecosystem. This is often the best first step to see if we have something. In HOLLIS, click on "Online Access" or open the record and scroll down to the "Access Options" section. Check the HOLLIS section of this guide for more guidance.
Browser Plugins for Library Access
Harvard Library Bookmark and Lean Library plugins can help you find out if we have access to books and articles online.
Books and other materials stored in facilities not on Harvard's main campus. Request this material through HOLLIS:
- Select "Request Pick Up" in the Access section of the HOLLIS Record, then enter your Harvard Key.
- A drop down menu will allow you to choose delivery location. Sometimes there is a single delivery option. Submit your request.
- You will receive an email usually next business day (not weekends or holidays) morning. Item is usually ready for pick-up in mid-afternoon.
Sometimes Offsite storage material is in-library use only. For Widener, this is the Widener secure reading room on the 1st floor (formerly the Periodicals Room). Most Offsite storage material is available for scanning via Scan & Deliver (see below).
Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan
Use Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan to request PDFs of articles and book chapters from HOLLIS when you cannot get online access. Limit: 2 chapters from a book or 2 articles from a journal.
Request materials from other libraries via InterLibrary Loan:
- Some non-Harvard special collections may be willing and able to scan material (usually for a fee). Our Interlibrary Loan department will place the request and help with the cost (there is a cap).
- Contact the other repository to see if they're able to scan what you need. Get a price estimate for the material and the exact details (such as: Box 77 folder 4. This information is often available in Finding Aids).
- Log in to ILL. On the left side it says "Make a Request." Open that and choose "Request Article."
- Fill in what you can (put in N/A if the field is inapplicable) with the price and other information in the Comments box.
- This will get the process going and ILL will get back to you if they need more information or to discuss the price.
Borrow Direct allows Harvard students, faculty, and staff to request items from other libraries for delivery to Harvard within 4 business days. If the item you need is not available, try searching our partner institutions' collections in BorrowDirect.
If there are materials you'd like to see added to the library's collections, submit a purchase request and we will look into acquiring it. We can buy both physical and electronic copies of materials; specify if have a preference.
Special Collections are rare, unique, primary source materials in the library's collections. To access, look for "Request to Scan or Visit" in HOLLIS (to place a scanning request) or contact the repository directly. Most of our larger archival collections are able to provide scans.
Carrels at Widener Library
Graduate students and visiting scholars are eligible to have a carrel in the Widener Library stacks. Start the process with the carrel request form. (If you do this right at the start of the semester, it may take a few weeks before you receive confirmation.) Materials from the Widener stacks, including non-circulating materials like bound periodicals, can be checked out to your carrel.
Help with Digital Projects
The Digital Scholarship Support Group offers workshops and support to faculty, students, and staff interested in digital research methods. See also GIS Mapping Resources and Visualization Support.