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  • Archives Unbound (SI Staff): Presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents that cover a broad range of topics from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.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 17 different databases at once, including American Periodicals, Ethnic NewsWatch, and 14 different historical newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune.
  • 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 April 22, 2021