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Archival Research in Europe

Collections in the US lead to International Archives

To find a directory, use  Worldcat (link to Duke subscription) instead of (open link) 

Search various combinations of:

  • search terms for your research topic
  • “country name” as a subject
  • field “Geographic Coverage”
  • Click “Archival Materials”
  • add “Archives” or “Sources” and “country name” as a subject term


  • ArchiveGrid.This database contains nearly a million collection descriptions, or  FINDING AIDS from thousands of libraries, archives, and museums.
  • SNAC  Social Networks and Archival Content. SNAC is demonstrating the feasibility of separating the description of persons, families, and organizations—including their socio-historical contexts—from the description of the historical resources that are the primary evidence of their lives and work. A key objective is to provide researchers with convenient, integrated access to historical collections held by multiple private and public archives and libraries around the world while also setting the stage for a cooperative program for maintaining information about the people documented in the collections.
  • Archive Finder for United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland. This is a subscription resource; Duke does not subscribe; the Library of Congress does. LC is always worth a trip, and getting a Reader’s card is now easier than ever: it takes about 15 minutes to have a card in hand with the on-site registration. Duke does have access to the US components in other formats:
  • National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. The mission of the NUCMC program is to provide and promote bibliographic access to the nation's documentary heritage. Also online at
  • National inventory of documentary sources in the United States [microform]. Part Federal records. This resource includes descriptions of the finding aids, registers, indexes, and collection guides available for collections of manuscripts and documentary sources in the United States.
  • Digital Public Library of AmericaDPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format.

More specialised:

  • CLIR hidden Collections Registry is a discovery tool to highlight rare and unique library, archival, and museum collections. It features projects funded through CLIR’s Cataloging and Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives programs as well as numerous other special collections throughout the U.S. and Canada
  • ArchivesCanada  is gateway to archival resources from over eight hundred repositories across Canada contains linked archival repository databases for each province.
  • Library of Congress is America’s de facto national library.
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) preserves United States federal government materials. See their Guide to Research.
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives 
  • Finding Aids and local catalogs accessible from the website of an institution of interest; smaller institutions do not always participate in union activities like Worldcat or ArchiveGrid

More international


Explore Marburg

Case study: explore types of archives at 


A good glossary of German archival terms is found here:

Glossar (Uni Hannover)

Jürgen Seefeldt und Ludger Syré 
Portale zu Vergangenheit und Zukunft - Bibliotheken in Deutschland. Im Auftrag von Bibliothek und Information Deutschland e.V. (BID) herausgegeben. Mit einem vorwort von Claudia Lux. 4. überarb. Aufl. Hildesheim: Olms Verlag, 2011.


The Society for the Study of French History has a wonderful site explaining practical aspects of working in French Archives, below is a copy of their abstract with links

Working in French Archives
The Society for the Study of French History offers a range of guidance documents relating to the practical aspects of doing research in French archives. These are available below, and will provide a useful starting point for postgraduate students (as well as other researchers) working on French history.

  • Archives Diplomatiques, Nantes 
  • Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères, la Courneuve 
  • Archives Nationales d’outre mer, Aix-en-Provence 
  • Archives Nationales (site de Paris) 
  • Archives Nationales (Pierrefite) 
  • Researching Algeria at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence 
  • Using Early Modern French Archives 
  • Early Modern Archives [pdf]