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Finding and Using Primary Sources: Data & Stats

A guide on defining, finding, and using primary resources in your research


Quick Sources of Contemporary Data

U.S. Census Bureau
Leading source of data on the US population and economy. 

International Financial Statistics (IFS)
The International Financial Statistics database covers about 200 countries and areas, with some aggregates calculated for selected regions, plus some world totals. Topics covered include balance of payments, commodity prices, exchange rates, fund position, government finance, industrial production, interest rates, international investment position, international liquidity, international transactions, labor statistics, money and banking, national accounts, population, prices, and real effective exchange rates. 

OECD.Stat includes data and metadata for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and selected non-member economies.

UNdata is a web-based data service for the global user community. It brings international statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single-entry point. Users can search and download a variety of statistical resources compiled by the United Nations (UN) statistical system and other international agencies. The numerous databases or tables collectively known as "datamarts" contain over 60 million data points and cover a wide range of statistical themes including agriculture, crime, communication, development assistance, education, energy, environment, finance, gender, health, labour market, manufacturing, national accounts, population and migration, science and technology, tourism, transport and trade.

DataBank is an analysis and visualisation tool that contains collections of time series data on a variety of topics. You can create your own queries; generate tables, charts, and maps; and easily save, embed, and share them.

Additional Ways to Find Data

Kaggle offers a no-setup, customizable, Jupyter Notebooks environment. Access free GPUs and a huge repository of community published data & code. Inside Kaggle you’ll find all the code & data you need to do your data science work. Use over 50,000 public datasets and 400,000 public notebooks to conquer any analysis in no time.

Google Dataset Search
Dataset Search is a search engine for datasets. Using a simple keyword search, users can discover datasets hosted in thousands of repositories across the Web.

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Need Help?  Ask a Librarian for help finding primary sources in the library. 

Librarians are available from 9am to 12am most days to help you with your research. You can reach us in person, via chat, phone, or email.


Duke University Resources for Finding Data

Finding and Using Data
Duke University's Center for Data and Visualization Sciences (CDVS) provides a variety of workshops and consulting services to assist in data gathering, management, visualization, processing and analysis. Their website also provides a searchable database of nearly five hundred data repositories representing a wide range of subject matter from immigration and census statistics to economic, environmental and geospatial data. The CDVS blog also provides useful articles and reflections about working data and considerations for using data and statistics as primary source material. 

An additional source of research data is Duke's Research Data Repository. The Research Data Repository is a service of the Duke University Libraries that provides curation, access, and preservation of research data produced by the Duke community. They accept data, documentation, software, and other code related to the teaching and research mission of Duke University, including data linked to a publication, research project, and/or class projects. Data deposit is open to all members of the Duke Community with a valid netid. All data are openly accessible for direct download. 

Historical Data Resources
A portal for sources of historical data and statistics, edited by Rodney Edvinsson, associate professor in economic history, Stockholm University, and Pro Futura Fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. 

Historical Currency Converter
How much could 10 french franc in 1898 buy in today's rupees? What was the worth of 1 billion German mark in 1923 or 1000 Polish zloty in 1980? Was an annual wage of 25 pounds per year in 1780 much compared to the wage rates at the time? To answer these questions the Historical Currency Converter uses a short-cut, by comparing the worth of various sums in various currencies in their purchasing power of Swedish consumer goods and the pay of workers in Sweden. Provided a country's purchasing power parity does not change much compared to Sweden, this should give a reasonable accounts of the worth of money over time also for other countries.

Historical Statistics of the United States (HSUS)
The HSUS Millennial edition is a five-volume reference work spanning 1790 to 2000. It includes historical data related to US population, immigration, labor, government and the economy. 

Salons and Group Exhibitions 1673-1914
The Salons database is designed to allow users to access and search the text content of booklets from artistic Salons in Paris (Salons des Artistes français, Société nationale des Beaux-Arts, Salon d’Automne, etc.) and the regions, as well as the main group exhibitions (Impressionist exhibitions, Rose-Croix, etc.) between 1673 and 1914. It is therefore possible to perform searches on the artists and the works exhibited: address, professors, place of birth, title, materials, iconography, owner, etc.

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (
This digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them. European colonizers turned to Africa for enslaved laborers to build the cities and extract the resources of the Americas. They forced millions of Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas, and from one part of the Americas to another. Analyze these slave trades and view interactive maps, timelines, and animations to see the dispersal in action.