Humanities: Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Archives, libraries, and museums are sources of useful information in the humanities. While some materials are available online, it may be useful to contact the institution directly for specific questions.

Primary Source Collections

Primary sources in the humanities include print materials such as diaries, logs, journals, and letters. They also include images such as artwork and photographs of events.

Researchers involved in literary criticism use both primary texts and secondary critical resources focused on their particular interest area such as author, topic, era, genre, or theme. In many cases, researchers may seek out correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, and other personal papers of authors. They may also seek out business records related to publishers, booksellers, and others.

Primary source documents related to music may include scores; audio recordings; video recordings; and translations of texts. Many ephemeral resources are associated with the performing arts such as programs, playbills, posters, press releases, advertisements, clippings, ticket stubs, and financial records. In many cases, original sketches, plans, or designs for costumes, dance steps, or set decorations are available.

In the visual arts, researchers are often in need of high-quality images from prehistory times to the present. Paintings and other works of art are often used for inspiration.

Read Ballor, Jordan J. (April/May 2012). The dynamics of primary source and electronic resource. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 16-19.

Artemis Primary Sources from Gale is an integrated research environment that allows users to search across all of our library’s Gale primary source collections. Available from IUPUI.

try itTry It!
Go to Artemis Primary Sources. Conduct a search for the word art, music, dance, philosophy, religion. Or, try a topic within these areas such as an author search. Share your findings. Who might make use of this information?


Digital Collections: Archives and Libraries

Useful digital collections can be found at archives, libraries, and museums.

General Humanities Topics

Art and Architecture




Read Duffy, Eamon P. (2013). Searching HathiTrust. The Canadian Journal of Library & Information Practice & Research, 8(1), 1-13.

Read Marini, Francesca (2009). Visual and performing arts archives. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. Taylor and Francis.

Read Lazar, Lisa A. (2013). Hidden gems: creative artists and historical society libraries and archives. The Reference Librarian, 54(4), 263-279.

try itTry It!
Explore one of the libraries or archives listed above. Or, select another one of your choice. List the name, the URL, the collection focus, and discuss a potential audience for this resource.

Digital Humanities

Digital humanities applies technology to address humanities questions, share and analyze primary source materials, and explore materials in new ways.

Read Flanders, Julia & Mylonas, Elli (2009). Digital humanities. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. Taylor and Francis.

Read and watch Digital Humanities Presentation to learn more about this popular area of scholarly activity.


Organizations and Project

try itTry It!
Explore one of the digital humanities organizations or project above. How does it reflect the definition of digital humanities?


Museums related specifically to the humanities include:

Many of these museums have archives, libraries, and study centers filled with information.

Scenario Stumper
I'm interested in visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Beyond the museum exhibits is there a library or archives that's available to the public?
Yes! The MET Libraries include over a dozen libraries, archives, and study centers. Some are available to the public while others require a request or appointment. Many of their materials can also be searched online.
The Bottom Line... most museums provide access to materials beyond the public collections. However, in many cases access is supervised and limited.

try itTry It!
Do a Google search for a museum focusing on humanities topics such as an art museum and locate their website. Do they have a library or archives? Is it open to the public? Can requests be made? List the museum, the URL, and your findings.

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