American Studies 301: Theories and Methods in American Studies

A guide to finding sources that illuminate the lives of past Williams students and their environment

General Advice

Finding resources in Special Collections may be a little bit different than the kind of searching you do for an average research project. Finding archival collections relevant to your research can be tricky. Some collections are assembled by staff based on similar content, but most are associated with a particular creator -- generally a person or an organization. Don't be afraid of the rabbit holes! You might discover something you weren't expecting.

Questions to Consider

Does the collection cover the time period in which you're interested?

How much material does the collection comprise? 

  • Size may be noted in inches, linear feet, cubic feet, volumes, folders, reels, etc. The extent will give you an indication of how much time it will take for you to use the entire collection or a portion of it.

How is the collection organized? 

  • Pinpoint the portions of the collection (i.e. boxes or folders) that you believe will be of most use to your project. Interpret the language and wording used by the archives and the individual or organization that created the material.

Key Printed Sources on Williams History

Selected digitized archival materials from other institutions

Libraries, historical societies, and database vendors are digitizing archival materials to make them more accessible. Below are just a few such projects.