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Archival Research: Books and Documents

This guide will help you in doing periodical and primary source research for both American and British assignments

Uses for Books, Documents, Diaries, and Letters

  • Rare books and documents including fiction and nonfiction, behavior manuals, educational materials, sheet music and liberitti, government documents, broadsides, pamphlets, and ephemra, such as pictures, postcards, etc.
  • Diaries and letters provide a glimpse inside notable figures lives as well information on those that have held special places in society such as midwives, educators, and political activist.  These items are very important when looking at how historical events may have affected the daily lives of individuals.
  • Diaries and letters also revel the private thoughts and conversations of major literary, social, and political figures
  • Looking at specific authors works and unpublished papers can enhance literary criticism.

Books and Documents

The databases listed below focus on books and documents.  Databases are searchable by key terms, author, genre, subject, place of publication, history of publishing, and language.

Below is a small list of some of the newspaper and periodical databases we have. For a complete list, go to and click Databases. Select Primary Sources from the "Browse by type" list.

Our Own Special Collections

The TCU Special Collections is located on the second floor of the library.  It holds the following collections that would be interesting to American Studies scholars:

The William Luther Lewis Collection

  • Represents over three hundred principal authors of English and American Literature.
  • The collection is composed of approximately fifteen hundred titles, nearly nine hundred first editions
  • Materials range in date from the 15th to the 20th centuries, and most of the works are written by outstanding figures of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, including Poe and Emerson.

Erisman Odom Collection

  • Consists of juvenile literature from the late 19th century to the mid 20th literature
  • The literature is geared toward both boys and girls
  • A large portion of the literature concerns adventures and growing industrial technology of that time period

The collection also contains penny dreadfuls and short runs of American periodicals.  Early volumes of American periodicals can be found in our databases, in the bound periodicals, and on microfilm.

Authors and Literature Online

Humanities & Theatre

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Ammie E. Harrison
Mary Couts Burnett Library
TCU Box 298400
Fort Worth, TX 76129
(817) 257-5338