Cornell University

Catherwood Library

Catherwood Library, Ives Hall, 607-255-5435

Primary Source Materials

Primary sources are actual records that have survived from the past, such as photographs, articles of clothing, oral histories, etc..  Written primary sources include news reports, cases, letters, and other papers written during an era or historical event. 

The Kheel Center contains many primary artifacts and documents that illuminate labor and workplace history - specifically of the needle trades, railroads, teachers, arbitration, mediation, and management theory.

Cornell subscribes to many online databases that are excellent resources for labor and workplace history research.  Some of them are listed below.  

ProQuest Historical Newspapers
This database offers full-text and full-image articles for newspapers dating back to the 19th century. For most titles, the collection includes digital reproductions of every page from every issue, cover to cover, in downloadable PDF files. The database is an ongoing project.

ProQuest Historical Annual Reports
This database offers corporate annual reports for U.S. companies from 1884 to the present. Key data (financial, Fortune 500 ranking, industry classification, key people, geographic location, auditor, and related companies) are indexed in the citation and can be searched. Reports can be browsed by company name, industry or date. Cross-searchable to other historical periodical databases.

Applied Science and Business Retrospective
Search a single resource for articles on events, issues and trends in the history of business and industry. Contains the complete content of Industrial Arts Index (1913-1957), Applied Science & Technology Index (1958-1983), and Business Periodicals Index (1958-1983).

Making of America
A digital library of full text 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.

Ancestry Library Edition has wide-range coverage of the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vital, church, court, and immigration records, as well as record collections from Canada and other areas. A collection of more than 4,000 databases including U.S. Federal Census images and indexes from 1790 to 1930; the Map Center containing more than 1,000 historical maps; American Genealogical Biographical Index (over 200 volumes); Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage (over 150 volumes); The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1630; Social Security Death Index (updated monthly); WWI Draft Registration Cards; Federal Slave Narratives; a strong Civil War collection, and more indexes and original images will be added.

American Periodicals Series Online 1740-1900 (APS Online)
Available as part of the ProQuest Direct system. Covering more than 150 years of American magazine journalism, conveniently divided into three segments. Each covers a definite developmental phase in the history of our country, spanning approximately 50 years. Series I: 1741-1800—Beginnings (APS I): titles provide valuable research material for students of literature and journalism history. Also contains publications in the fields of religion, music, and science. Series I is a well-rounded introduction to American periodical journalism as it grew with the nation. Series II: 1800-1850—Growth & Change (APS II): titles demonstrate the rapid growth of periodicals after 1800 and include virtually all the significant magazines of the period. The issue of slavery was debated widely and emotionally for decades before it divided the nation during the Civil War. The periodicals from the pre-war era provide social historians with a wealth of literature on this volatile issue. Series III: 1850-1900—Crisis & Reconstruction (APS III): periodicals from the Civil War and Reconstruction era published during the last half of the 19th century. Focuses on many of the early important professional journals. Students of marketing and advertising will find these popular periodicals useful in exploring the first examples of modern advertising slogans. Full text.

Periodicals Index Online (formerly PCI)
This is an electronic index (not full text) to thousands of periodicals in the humanities and social sciences, covering each periodical from its first issue. Every article is indexed. The scope is international, including journals in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and other languages. What makes PCI particularly good for researching labor history is that one of the titles in indexes is the American Federation of Labor's (AFL) American Federationist. Full text of many of the journals indexed can be found by searching for their titles in the Cornell Library Catalog.

Reader's Guide Retrospective
A database containing comprehensive indexing of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States. Reflects the history of 20th century America. Covers these areas: Aeronautics, African-Americans, Aging, Archeology, Astronomy, Automobiles, Biographies, Business, Children, Education, Environment, Fashion, Film, Fine Arts, Food, Foreign Affairs, Gardening, Health, History, Hobbies, Home, Journalism, Leisure Activities, Literature, Medicine, Music, News, Nutrition, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Radio, Religion, Science, Sports, Technology, Television, Travel. The complete database covers the years 1890 through 1982.

Newsbank, Access World News Connection
Access World News from NewsBank provides full-text information and perspectives from over 600 U.S. and over 700 international sources, each with its own distinctive focus offering diverse viewpoints on local, regional and world issues. Date coverage varies with individual newspaper. Particularly exciting, are the Early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers collections. They allow access to very early publications.

Historical Newspapers Online (Chadwyck-Healey)
Palmer's index to The Times [London], the official index to The Times, and the historical index to The New York Times in electronic form. This resource enables searches of early issues of the New York Times and The Times of London across years and across subjects which would be immensely time-consuming, if not impossible, with the printed editions. Use this database mainly to research articles form the London Times, as full text of The New York Times is now available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

ProQuest Digital National Security Archive
The National Security Archive is a non-profit research institute and library in Washington, D.C., which provides unprecedented public access to declassified documents obtained through extensive use of the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Through the Digital National Security Archive, the National Security Archive and Chadwyck-Healey have joined forces to produce the most comprehensive collection available of significant primary documents central to US foreign and military policy since 1945. Full text.

Keesing's Record of World Events
Keesing's record of world events electronic archives gives 40 years of full-text international news reports on the Internet.

This is an index to Harper's Weekly magazine, America's leading 19th century illustrated newspaper. Full text is also provided.

HeritageQuest Online
Offers research materials for tracing family lineage and American culture. Features United States census records, family and local histories, and primary source material. Although this resource is primarily of use for genealogy research, it also provides access to local publications and union histories. Full text.

International Women's Periodicals
Previously released as "Women Studies Archives : international women's periodicals online," published by Primary Source Media. Covers a variety of topics on the history of women. Historical women's periodicals provide an important resource to scholars interested in the lives of women, the role of women in society and, in particular, the development of the public lives of women as the push for women's rights—woman suffrage, fair pay, better working conditions, for example—grew in the United States and England. This Web site provides access to the full text of some of the most significant and least-widely held women's periodicals produced from the middle of the nineteenth century through the 1920s.

Gerritsen Collection, Women's History Online
The Gerritsen Collection was begun by Aletta Jacobs Gerritsen in the late 1800s. The online resource delivers two million page images exactly as they appeared in the original printed works. It includes monographs, periodicals and pamphlets in fifteen languages, and is searchable by keyword and Boolean operators.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries [electronic resource] : Colonial to 1950
Full-text database of letters and diaries of women who lived in North America before 1950. Browsing and searching of both the bibliographic and full-text elements provided by PhiloLogic software.