Databases for History and Culture Research

This list highlights some of the history and culture databases available to researchers from the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. A complete listing of electronic resources is located on the Libraries and Archives' E-journals, E-books, and Databases. Databases that require SI network for access are indicated by "SI staff." For information about remote access see Off-Site Access to Electronic Resources​.

General History and Culture Resources

  • Archives Unbound (SI Staff): Presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents that cover a broad range of topics from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
  • American Civil War: Letters and Diaries (SI Staff): Contains  over 2,000 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of diaries, letters and memoirs, presenting viewpoints and first-hand accounts from people on both sides of the conflict.
  • Gale Cengage Databases (SI Staff): Search across more than 30 Gale databases at the same time, including American and foreign newspapers (some historical, some current), as well as a variety of U.S. and international history sources.
  • JSTOR (SI Staff): Full-text searchable articles from more than 500 scholarly journals in the arts and humanities, economics and politics, mathematics and other fields of study. 
  • North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories (SI Staff): Includes over 2,100 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of information, providing a unique and personal view of what it meant to immigrate to America and Canada between 1800 and 1950.
  • North American Women's Letters and Diaries (SI Staff): Includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters. The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.
  • Project Muse (SI Staff): Provides full-text access to hundreds of high quality, peer-reviewed journals from non-profit scholarly publishers, including university presses and societies, covering a wide variety of disciplines.
  • ProQuest (SI Staff): Search across all available ProQuest different databases at once or select specific ones to search, including American Periodicals, Ethnic NewsWatch, Women's Magazine Archive, and historical newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Defender.
  • Smithsonian Collections Online (Gale Cengage) (SI Staff):  Online archive of Smithsonian and Air & Space Magazine issues, as well as online access to selected trade catalogs and World's Fair materials from Smithsonian collections.

Historic Newspaper Resources

Biography and Genealogy Resources

  • Ancestry Library Edition (SI Staff): Powered by, this resource offers access to billions of records for genealogical research.
  • American National Biography Online (SI Staff): Offers portraits of more than 19,000 men and women, from all eras and walks of life, whose lives have shaped the nation. 
  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index (SI Staff): Indexes current, easily accessible references sources to help find biographical material on people from all time periods, geographic locations, and fields of endeavor.
  •  FamilySearch: For over 100 years, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide.
  •  Fold3 (SI Staff): Provides access to military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served. Also includes some census records and selected other non-military materials.

Last Updated August 10, 2022