Doing History

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start with our research. This is especially the case in our quest for primary sources. Understanding how material has been collected and organized helps historians access the crucial material we need to investigate our questions about the past. Below are examples of some of the ways archives collect, organize, and disseminate material. This knowledge should aid you in your searches, and researches, into the past.

You can search an archive's complete digitized holdings.
The Newberry
The Library of Congress
The Huntington
National Library of Scotland
The National Archives (UK)

Sources might also be arranged by locale.
California History
Northwest Digital Archives
Louisiana History
Documenting the American South
Digital Chicago

The type of material can be an organizing principle.
(These happen to be digitized newspaper collections).
Washington State Newspapers
Chronicling America
Maryland Gazette
Missouri Newspapers

As can a topic,
American Indians in the Pacific Northwest
The Slave Trade
Oral Histories from Spokane's Japanese Americans
Baseball Cards
Women's Suffrage

A person,
Walt Whitman
Thomas Jefferson
Mary Wallstonecraft
Jimmy Carter

Or an era or event.
World War II
The Cold War
German Colonial History in Africa

There are even sites that organize other primary source databases together for your ease, just as the Digital Public Library of America and this collection from Bowling Green State University. 

There are many other ways to search for material. Creativity tends to be rewarded. What you are looking for is probably out there!