Finding Primary Sources: Primary Sources in Local Repositories
Although the University of Maryland Libraries are a rich source of primary source materials, other libraries in the area also contain useful materials. It is important when researching any topic to speak with the librarians, curators, and archivists. It is entirely possible that very similar collections exist in multiple locations within a state.
Someone interested in researching the life of Maryland governor Edwin Warfield (1904-1908) might need to visit three different repositories in the state of Maryland.
University of Maryland Libraries
Maryland Historical Society
Maryland State Archives
Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities often contain special collections that reach beyond the scope of their local institutions. Prominent alumni, local organizations, and politicians may all choose to donate their papers and archives to an academic library. Below are a few repositories of interest within the state of Maryland:
- George Meany Memorial Archives (Silver Spring, Maryland)
- Goucher College (Special Collections) (Towson, Maryland)
- Johns Hopkins University (Special Collections) (Baltimore, Maryland)
- Salisbury University (Edward H. Nabb Center for Delmarva History and Culture) (Salisbury, Maryland)
- University of Baltimore (Special Collections, Langsdale Library) (Baltimore, Maryland)
- University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Special Collections) (Catonsville, Maryland)
- University of Maryland at Baltimore (Health Sciences and Human Services Library) (Baltimore, Maryland)
Businesses often maintain their own archives, and may or may not allow the general public into their facilities for research. An excellect resource for searching for corporate archives is the Directory of Corporate Archives in the United States and Canada (Society of American Archivists, Business Archives Section). This online directory covers corporate archives in the United States and Canada, and also includes information on the archives of professional associations.
Corporate archives are not always maintained by a company itself and the archives of defunct companies can be located in a variety of institutions.
The archives of the Cuba Company, a business firm active in pre-Castro Cuba in railroad construction and operation, as well as in the ownership and operation of sugar and tobacco plantations, is located at the University of Maryland.
The Sears Archives has an extensive website with a wealth of historical information about the company, yet the archives itself is not open for research by the general public.
Federal, State, and Local
Governments are mandated to maintain records documenting their organization and work. For example, the National Archives manages and preserves the permanent records of the federal government.
- Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)
- The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. It is also the largest library in the world, with more than 120 million items. The collections include books, sound recordings, motion pictures, photographs, maps, and manuscripts.
- Maryland State Archives (Annapolis, Maryland)
- The Maryland State Archives is the historical agency for Maryland and serves as the central depository for government records of permanent value. Records date from the founding of the colony in 1634 to the present.
- Maryland State Law Library (Annapolis, Maryland)
- The Maryland State Law Library was established in 1826 and its primary function is to support the research activities of Maryland's two appellate courts and court-related units of the Judiciary. In addition, a wide variety of information services are extended to the public.
- National Agricultural
Library (Beltsville, Maryland)
- The National Agricultural Library is one of four national libraries of the United States, with locations in Beltsville, Maryland and Washington, D.C. It houses one of the world's largest and most accessible agricultural information collections.
- National Archives and Records Administration (College Park, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.)
- The National Archives keeps the documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States federal government that are deemed permanent for legal or historical reasons.
Historical societies often collect books, vertical files, and other types of information on people, places, and events of regional interest.
The Maryland State Archives maintains a list of Maryland historical and genealogical societies. The list below is a sample from our local area.
- Ann Arrundell County Historical Society
- Historical Society of Washington D.C.
- Maryland Historical Society
- Maryland Historical Trust Library
- Montgomery County Historical Society
- Prince George's County Historical Society
Public libraries often collect books, vertical files, and other types of information on people, places, and events of regional interest. The state of Maryland's SAILOR website maintains a complete list of public libraries in the state of Maryland.