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Tutt Library Research Guides


HY206 US History Since 1860: Sources From Archives & Special Collections

What sources are in archives and special collections?

Letters & Diaries

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Albert Einstein, answering Einstein's question, "Why war?"

From the Library of Congress, Sigmund Freud Papers: General Correspondence: 1871 - 1936

Papers (i.e. a person's or a group's collected items)

Sheet music to a ballad, Annabel Lee, from the Papers of Edgar Allen Poe at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.


On May 16, 1962, Colorado College students, faculty, and staff participated in a huge book move from Coburn Library to Tutt. From Colorado College Special Collections and Digital CC.

Ephemera (menus, posters, advertizements, etc.)

Buy Liberty Bonds, World War I Posters Collection, CC Special Collections.

Subject-Searchable Directory of Archives and Holdings

Tutt Library Archival Databases

How to Find Archival Materials

Because primary sources' primary home is in archives, you have to be able to search for archival materials. Here is a brief how-to.

Use any subscription, research databases to which you have access, because many archival sources are not available for free. See the box on this page for CC's archival databases. 

Use a directory like the ArchiveGrid to discover archives that have holdings in which you are interested. Another way to find the "right" archive is to do a Google search for the collection you seek, such as searching for "einstein's papers." Once you find the collection, visit the archive's website and look for digitized content, online exhibitions, and finding aids. 

Finding Aids 
Archives are not organized like libraries. Everything is kept in "original order." Archival collections are often made up of a person or group's papers, or organized around a group or theme, like a collection from Exxon Mobile's Masterpiece Theater. Keeping items grouped in original order means that you cannot easily search archival holdings by author or title. Instead search on the original owner's name, like Einstein, or use an archival tool called a Finding Aid. Most archives prepare finding aids for every collection they have. The aids include biographical or overview sketches, an idea of the scope of the collection, and a list of the collection's contents in their original order. You might find an entry like, "Box 10: draft manuscript of All the Presidents' Men and general correspondence related to publication of the book."

Special Collections

Many libraries, including Tutt, have holdings of rare and valuable items that are often primary sources.  These are often called Special Collections, and unlike archive, the holdings are organized individually. They can be searched for in the library's online catalog, whether searching by creator, title, or subject. Many libraries' special collections include some digitized items and often some online exhibitions. CC's Special Collections have several items available online. Visit the page shown below at (scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Tutt Library, Colorado College      Research Help Desk: 719-389-6662, Texting: 719-387-5441, E-mail: