Databases for History & Culture Research
This list highlights some of the history & culture databases available to researchers from the Smithsonian Libraries. A complete listing of databases is located on the Libraries' A-Z List of e-Journals and Databases.
These databases require on-site use unless Free Access is noted.
General history & culture resources
- Archives Unbound – Presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents that cover a broad range of topics from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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) – 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
- 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers – The most comprehensive collection of early English newspapers, including titles from London, British Isles, and colonies.
- 19th Century British Library Newspapers – Nearly 2 million newspaper pages covering British national and regional newspapers.
- 19th Century U.S. Newspapers – Primary source newspaper content from the 19th century, featuring full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S.
- African American Newspapers (1827-1998) – Covers life in the Antebellum South through the Civil Rights movement and more.
- Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Free Access) – This resource from the Library of Congress lets you search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1924 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
- Ethnic NewsWatch – Coverage: 1959-present. Included are journals, magazines, and newspapers from ethnic and minority presses. Ethnicities include: African American/Caribbean/African; Arab/Middle Eastern; Asian/Pacific Islander; European/Eastern European; Hispanic; Jewish; Native People.
- Financial Times Historical Archive – Coverage: 1888-2010. A complete black and white facsimile run of the world’s most authoritative daily business newspaper.
- Gale NewsVault – Cross-search all available Gale news archives using a single interface, which accesses over 400 years of content. Some of the archives searched include 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, British Library Newspapers 1732-1950, The London Times, and The Economist.
- Google News Archive (Free Access) – A list of U.S. and foreign digitized newspapers, arranged alphabetically by title. Coverage varies widely.
- Harper's Weekly 1857-1912 – America's leading 19th century illustrated newspaper.
- Illustrated London News Historical Archive (1842-2003) – The full facsimile run of the world’s most iconic illustrated newspaper.
- Independent Digital Archive, 1986-2012 – A British daily national newspaper
- Infotrac Newsstand – Provides access to more than 1,100 major U.S. regional, national and local newspapers as well as leading titles from around the world.
- London Daily Mail Historical Archive – Coverage: 1896-2004
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers – Cross-search all available ProQuest databases using a single interface, or select a specific newspaper below.
- Atlanta Constitution – Coverage: 1868-1984
- Atlanta Daily World – Coverage: 1931-2003
- Baltimore Afro-American – Coverage: 1893-1988
- Boston Globe – Coverage: 1872-1986
- Chicago Defender – Coverage: 1909-1975
- Chicago Tribune – Coverage: 1849-1994
- Hartford Courant – Coverage: 1764-1992
- Los Angeles Times – Coverage: 1881-1994
- New York Amsterdam News – Coverage: 1922-1993
- New York Times – Coverage: 1851-2016
- New York Tribune – Coverage: 1841-1922
- Pittsburgh Courier – Coverage: 1911-2002
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Coverage: 1874-1922
- Washington Post – Coverage: 1877-2003 (Smithsonian employees can register for a free current digital subscription at https://wapo.st/34iLbRs)
- Sunday Times Digital Archive – British national newspaper. Coverage: 1822-2006.
- Times Digital Archive – British daily national newspaper. Coverage: 1785-2014.
- Wikipedia List of Online Newspaper Archives (Free Access) – A listing of both free and pay wall blocked digital newspaper archives from the U.S. and foreign countries.
Biography & genealogy resources
- Ancestry Library Edition – Powered by Ancestry.com, this resource offers access to billions of records for genealogical research.
- American National Biography Online – Offers portraits of more than 19,000 men and women, from all eras and walks of life, whose lives have shaped the nation.
- Biography & Genealogy Master Index – Indexes current, easily accessible references sources to help find biographical material on people from all time periods, geographic locations, and fields of endeavor.
- FamilySearch (Free Access) – For over 100 years, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide.
- Fold3 – 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.