The research process will take you back and forth between primary, secondary, and reference sources. Some sources will help answer your research question and others will inspire more questions.
Manuscripts and archives are just one piece of the research puzzle, one kind of "document" to consider when gathering evidence to answer a research question. As you consider your research question and think about sources, ask yourself:
Following are several databases and catalogs useful for finding archival collections. Remember that these tools will only turn up collections that have been cataloged and/or described in finding aids contributed to the databases.
Many repositories hold collections that have not yet been cataloged or described in finding aids, so is useful to identify libraries and archives likely to hold relevant materials to learn about their collections and then to contact the staff with inquires.
Researchers In NYC are fortunate to have numerous world class manuscript repositories at our finger tips. Following are links to the NYPL and N-YHS library pages, where you can find resources for just about any research project imaginable:
There are two basic strategies for finding archival collections. You can:
Because unpublished archival materials pertaining to a specific person, organization, place, or event can end up in myriad collections scattered among multiple repositories, it is usually a good idea to try both types of searches to be certain you don't miss anything.
Identify repositories that collect materials on your topic or that are located in the in geographic vicinity of your subject and search their holdings.
Five steps for repository-level searching:
To identify repositories that will likely hold material on your subject, consult: