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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.

For example...

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

  • Edwin Warfield Correspondence (MS 2134)
  • Edwin Warfield Scrapbooks (MS 2098)

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:

Corporate Archives

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.

For example...

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.

Historical Societies

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.

Public Libraries

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.