I need a primary source now!

Having trouble finding primary sources? Want to research outside of Special Collections hours? Can’t visit Hornbake Library in person? No problem! This post is all about finding digitized primary sources in Special Collections and University Archives at UMD.


We have lots of digitized material from Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland that is available 24/7!  Look through photographs, documents, film, and audio on our Digital Collections site, browse photographs and documents on Flickr, and read books and periodicals on the Internet Archive.

Here’s a list of places to look online for our digitized content:

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Featured Collections: Fall 2015

Expect the Unexpected

Did you know that we have collections right here on campus to help you learn more about black history and literature?

African American Literature

Black Judgement by Nikki Giovanni

Black Judgement by Nikki Giovanni

The African-American and African pamphlet collection contains literature, poetry and drama produced by and about African-Americans, primarily from the mid-20th century. Represented in this collection are well-known African-American figures such as Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni. Browse the finding aid for specific titles or link directly to the relevant inventories:

Authors and Poets collection

Find primary source material related to major literary figures such as John Updike, William Carlos Williams, and Joyce Carol Oates in our Authors and Poets collection. African-Americans, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, and Claude Brown, are also represented in this collection. Examples of materials within this collection include:

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts and notes
  • Proofs and publications
  • Unique printed material; including programs, posters, sheet music and more
  • Serials – many including first appearances of literary works

Discover authors and poets

Literary Firsts

The First Appearances collection consists of over 1,300 periodicals presenting the first public dissemination, of many seminal 20th century literary works. Spanning 1915 to 1977, this collection contains famous pieces such as “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “Ulysses” by James Joyce, and “Ship of Fools” by Katherine Anne Porter. Authors well-represented in this collection include Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, Flannery O’Connor, Gertrude Stein, Amiri Baraka, and more.

Contact us for information about this collection.

Simply Heavenly by Langston Hughes

Simply Heavenly by Langston Hughes

Learning to research with Primary Sources

Has your class met with a librarian yet?

We are gearing up for a number of classes with students. We offer a variety of instructional opportunities, but our most common request is to provide students with an introduction to primary source research and the special collections available on campus. Use the resources below to refresh your memory or to learn about research with primary sources.

instructionResearch with primary sources

Web tools

Special Collections and University Archives (find materials now)

ArchivesUM  (archives and manuscripts on campus)

Digital Collections (digitized special collections materials)

Research using primary sources (tutorial)

Other tools

Primary Source Analysis

Newspapers to research topics in 1975

Introduction to Using Primary Sources on Campus (presentation slides)

Contact us – email askhornbake@umd.edu or call 301-405-9212

Resources for National History Day Participants

Special Collections and University Archives staff recently completed a website outlining the resources we have to offer all National History Day participants. Many of our resources are available online and accessible everywhere. For those local to Prince George’s County, Maryland, we have a wide variety of resources available on site to the public.

Please explore our new resource and let us know what you think!

National History Day Resources at University of Maryland Libraries

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Analyzing primary sources: Civil War Newspapers

This is one of a series of posts about how to analyze different types of primary sources.

Last week we talked about analyzing literature from the world wars. This week we’re also looking at published material – newspaper images depicting scenes from the Civil War.


During the Civil War, newspapers were a popular source of information about battles, events, and opinions on the war. Radio, television, and the internet were decades away from creation, and photography was still in its early years. Newspapers were dominated by illustrations and articles depicting scenes of the war, which was one of the only ways readers could stay informed about what was happening. Keep in mind national opinions on the war and how newspaper publishers, reporters, and illustrators may have interpreted the scenes they were illustrating and reporting on.


Below are several pages from 19th century American newspapers. Think about some of these questions as you look at each page:

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Analyzing primary sources: Campus protest photographs

This is one of a series of posts about how to analyze different types of primary sources.

Last week we talked about analyzing literature from World War I and World War II. This week we’re also talking about images in a time of strife, but instead of world war literature we’re going to look at Vietnam-era photographs.


During the late 1960s and early 1970s, students across the nation protested against U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. Students at the University of Maryland were no different, and they made their views known on campus and in College Park. Events came to a head between 1970 and 1972, when there were a series of violent protests on campus. At three different points Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel declared a state of emergency and sent in the National Guard to restore order. During the main conflict in May 1970 (students were protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia), students vandalized buildings on campus, set fires on campus, blocked Route 1, and threw bricks, rocks, and bottles at riot police. Police responded with teargas, riot batons, and dogs. The photographs below show some of these scenes – make sure to keep the wider student protests and national opinions regarding the military conflicts in mind as you look at these local events.


Below are several photographs taken at the riots and protests on and near campus. Think about some of these questions as you look at each image:

  • Who took these photographs? Were they involved in the riots?
  • Who is the audience? Were these meant as personal photographs, or were they made public (e.g. – published in a newspaper, book, etc.)?
  • When and where were these photographs taken?
  • What was going on locally, nationally, and internationally at the time these photographs were taken?
  • What is shown in the photographs – is it the whole picture? Are these photographs accurate representations of the events they depict?

[click for larger images]

Further Research

There are many more photographs of Vietnam-era protests in Special Collections. Find more images in University AlbUM – one of our digital collections – by searching for “Vietnam protests” or “Vietnam demonstrations.” There are also several collections of photographs that have not yet been digitized – find information about those collections here.

Learn more about Vietnam-era protests on campus by using this research guide. The guide lists all of the related materials in Special Collections – documents, publications (including student publications), photographs, and more.

Want more help analyzing and understanding primary sources? You can download our Primary Source Analysis handout or take at look at our “Research Using Primary Sources” tutorial. Need help finding primary and secondary sources to analyze? We’re always happy to help – just ask us! You can also check out our website (we recommend starting your research here).