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Primary Sources: Subject Resources

This is a research guide to finding primary sources that are accessible through the MSU Duane G. Meyer Library or through the open web.

Primary Documents Available through MSU Meyer Library Subject Databases

These subject databases mainly contain scholarly journal articles and secondary literature, but have some primary items as well. Begin searching with a specific name or keywords combined with a particular type of primary document , which may include personal narratives, letters, diaries, interviews, pamphlets, speeches, or other. Search Example: Martin Luther King, Jr. and (speeches or interviews)

NOTE - Some subject databases may only be searchable by one user at a time or by limited users

Select Online Collections

Below is a small sampling of subject-based digital collections that can lead you straight to digitized primary sources. Researchers are encouraged to use a search engine to find other topics, or reach out to a librarian or archivist for further help.

Missouri Digital Heritage

More than 9 million records from across the state can be accessed at this site.

Umbra Search African American History

Umbra brings together digitized materials from over 1,000 libraries and archives across the country.

Library of Congress Digital Collections

Digital collections held in the Library of Congress, including U.S. and international collections.

Women Working, 1800-1930

Using collections at Harvard University, this site explores women's impact on the economic life of the United States.

Community and Conflict

This site explores the impact of the Civil War on the Ozarks. It includes photographs, letters, journals, and other primary sources from across the Midwest.

Documenting the American South

Topics range from the Civil War to civil rights.

Physical Collections in Meyer Library

Researchers visiting the Springfield campus can use the physical archives located in Meyer Library.

Due to the ongoing health crisis, hours are limited for Fall 2020:

  • MSU Special Collections and Archives -- Tuesday to Friday, 12:00 to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment
  • SHSMO - Area Research Center -- By appointment only

MSU's Special Collections and Archives

While many archival collections have been digitized in whole or in part, more are available for use in the library. Special Collections preserves and makes accessible collections related to Ozarks history and culture. Examples include organizational records from local labor unions, photograph collections, records of the Frisco railroad, family correspondence, and materials from local theatres.  The University Archives is also available and offers a look at how the university has grown since 1905. Researchers might also find the Rare Book collection of use.

For more information, call 417.836.5428 or email

State Historical Society of Missouri -- Area Research Center

Based in Columbia, SHSMO has five area research centers throughout the state. Researchers can request collections from other centers, giving easy access to SHSMO's holdings of institutional records, family papers, photographs, subject collections, and Missouri newspapers.  Researchers need to request the collections at least two weeks in advance.

For more information, call 417.836.3782 or email


Both offices are located in Meyer Library Room 306.