Category Archives: History

Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Science, Technology and Medicine: 1780-1925

Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO): Science, Technology, and Medicine, 1780-1925, part II was recently added to the Columbia University Libraries.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online

This second part of the Science Technology and Medicine collection includes some three million pages of scientific material from the late seventeenth century through the first quarter of the twentieth century, with a primary focus on the nineteenth century.

Collections include:

  • Academies of Science Publications
  • Entomology
  • Natural History
  • Rise of Public Health in England and Wales

These complement the material in the first Science, Technology, and Medicine collection which include:

  • Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia: Minutes and Correspondence
  • American Medical Periodicals
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Civil Engineering
  • Color Theory and Practice
  • Electricity and Electromagnetism
  • Evolution and Origin of Species
  • Mathematics
  • Reports of Explorations Printed in the Documents of the United States Government
  • Scientific and Technical Periodicals from the Royal Society of London’s Catalogue of Scientific Papers

If you have a questions about this database, or any other research question, please visit, call, email or text us.

Database Trial: Numerique Premium


We are currently trialing a new database of French e-books, Numérique Premium, through April 12, 2014. The collection contains nearly 850 full-text titles in a variety of fields, including history, religion, philosophy, politics, literature/literary theory, film, and architecture. Publishers include:  Belles Lettres, Canadian Scholars Press, CNRS éditions, ENS éditions, Gallimard,Flammarion, Nouveau Monde, Picard, Presses universitaires de McGill, Association française pour la recherche en histoire du cinéma, Association des Professeurs d’Histoire-Géographie, Société des études robespierristes, Fondation Napoléon, Fondation Charles de Gaulle, Institut Napoléon…

This resource is currently only available on-campus until April 12, 2014. Please send any comments or questions to Meredith Levin, Western European Humanities Librarian, at

Bonne Lecture!!!

Medieval Studies: Finding Secondary Sources Online

There are several resources online for identifying secondary literature: articles, books, dissertations, etc.  It is prudent to take advantage of all of these resources for a given topic, rather than relying on a single resource to provide all possible results.
Chained library, Hereford Cathedral
International Medieval Bibliography Online
Bibliography de Civilisation Médiévale
The International Medieval Bibliography (IMB) and the Bibliography de Civilisation Médiévale (BCM) index articles and monographs, respectively.  They are cross-searchable from a single interface.  The IMB covers all aspects of medieval studies within the date range of 400 to 1500 for the entire continent of Europe,  and for the Christian Middle East and North Africa, indexing articles beginning in 1967.  The BCM indexes monographs in the same areas, beginning in 1957.
Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
The Iter Bibliography indexes a wide range of journals and essay collections in all scholarly disciplines for the period 400 to 1700.  The main page of the Iter Gateway offers a wide variety of bibliographical tools and e-books of interest to those studying the late medieval and early modern periods.
Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index
A free resource that indexes journal articles, book reviews, and essay collections on the topic of women, gender, and sexuality for Europe and the Christian Middle East and North Africa in the years from 450 to 1500.
JSTOR provides full-text PDFs of over 1000 journals in over 60 disciplines.  Coverage of each title begins with volume 1 and continues to a rolling wall of approximately five years ago.  As a result, JSTOR is not a good resource for current scholarship.  Searching in JSTOR is best suited for very specific events, places, or people.
ProQuest Digital Dissertations
The bibliographies of dissertations are extremely useful.  This database allows searching of titles and abstracts for nearly every American dissertation since 1861.  Dissertations deposited since 1995 may well be available in PDF format.  Foreign dissertations may be requested via Interlibrary Loan from the Center for Research Libraries.

 For more information on any of these resources, on supplementing these with print resources, or on research in medieval studies generally, please contact:

Karen Green
Karen Green
Ancient & Medieval History and Religion Librarian


Medieval Studies: Finding Primary Sources Online

Augustine, De civitate Dei, S. XV; Columbia RBML Plimpton ms 47, f. 20vThe Libraries subscribe to a wide number of resources that provide access to Latin texts of the Middle Ages.  Here are some you might find useful (this is a selection, not a comprehensive list).
You can bookmark the URLs below for use from any location: 

Patrologia Latina: the full-text database
An electronic edition of the 200+ volumes of Migne’s Patrologia Latina, containing writings of the Fathers of the Church and other churchmen.  Authors range from Tertullian (†220) to Pope Innocent III (†1216).  In Latin.

Library of Latin Texts
Beginning with the authors contained in the Corpus Christianorum (both Series Latina and Continuatio Medievalis), and expanded to include those of Roman antiquity as well as the post-medieval Church, the LLT contains texts from the beginning of Latin literature (Livius Andronicus, 240 BC) through to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).  In Latin.

Acta Sanctoruma: the full-text database
The catalogue of Christian saints, from the first martyr through the counter-Reformation, with texts presented in chronological order by feast day.  In Latin.

Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH)
A selection of texts tracing the history of Germany from its Frankish beginnings through the late middle ages, from the MGH’s five divisions: Scriptores, Leges, Diplomata, Epistolae, and Antiquitates.  In Latin. 

The full electronic MGH, without an English-language interface, may be found here.

Medieval Travel Writing
A collection of medieval manuscripts dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries, featuring accounts of journeys to the Holy Land, India and China.  In Latin, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, with supporting materials in English.

Medieval Family Life
Full-color images of the original medieval manuscripts that comprise these letter collections of the Paston, Cely, Plumpton, Stonor, and Armbrugh families, along with full-text searchable transcripts from printed editions.  In 15th-century English, with supporting materials in modern English.

Medieval and Early Modern Sources Online
Digitized editions of texts concerning economic, political, legal, and ecclesiastical history (e.g. treasury accounts, chronicles, papal registers). Most are from England, Ireland, and Scotland.  Primarily in Latin.

For information on additional full-text resources, assistance in navigating these databases, or general reference assistance, please contact:

Karen Green
Karen Green
Ancient & Medieval History and Religion Librarian

HathiTrust: A Shared Digital Repository

HathiTrustColumbia is a member of the HathiTrust Digital Library, a vast repository of nearly 9 million volumes, 2.5 million of which are full-text searchable.  Though international in scope, The HathiTrust collection is especially useful for magazines & journals published before 1924, US government documents, and multi-volume works.

Login for the most complete search options, which include:

  • ability to search standard catalog records or across the full-text of the collection
  • single (?) and multiple letter truncation (*)
  • simple Boolean searching
  • keyword in context (full-text only) displays in the ascii text (though not in the PDFs)
  • ability to create private (or public) collections and search only within that content
  • ability to search public collections created by others

The interface offers a variety of views: page, scroll, flip, thumbnails, ascii text; and supports PDFs downloads of selected pages or the entire document.

Here are a just a few HathiTrust journals that are indexed in the Readers Guide Retrospective, but not currently available online from other sources: The Survey, The Delineator, Ladies Home Journal, Forum, The Independent, Good Housekeeping.

Due to the complexity of serials cataloging, there are sometimes multiple records in the HathiTrust catalog for the same journal.  CLIO also includes links to HathiTrust content, either as separate records, or as links in the sidebar in catalog records for paper subscriptions.  If you don’t find the years you are looking for in CLIO, be sure to search the HathiTrust collection separately.  Because they are based on deposited collections, some of these journal runs are currently incomplete, but as the HathiTrust collection grows, these gaps should be filled. 

Image from Frank Leslie's Ladies Magazine

In May 2011, The HathiTrust Research Center was formed to support "computational access for nonprofit and educational users to published works in the public domain stored within HathiTrust." 

If you any have questions about accessing, searching, or downloading material in the HathiTrust Digital Library, or in any other collection, please let us know.

International Women’s Day Centenary


A few of our databases for research on women and gender:

Recent Scholarship
Gender Studies Database
Contemporary Women’s Issues
Feminae: Medieval Women & Gender Index

Historical Full Text Resources
Gerritsen Collection: Women’s History Online, 1543-1945
Everyday Life and Women in America, 1820-1900
Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000

Letters & Diaries
Epistolae: Medieval Latin Women’s Letters

Perdita Manuscripts: Women Writers 1500-1700
British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries, from 1500-1900
North American Women’s Letters and Diaries, 1700-1900
Manuscript Women’s Letters and Diaries, from the American Antiquarian Society, 1750-1950
The Sixties: Primary Sources and Personal Document

LION: Literature Online

For suggestions of other resources, stop by or call the Butler reference desk.  Or Ask a Librarian.

New Database: Jewish Life in America c1654-1954

Jewish Life in America c1654-1954: Sources from the American Jewish Historical Society provides full online access to 24 collections of personal papers, and partial access to the papers and archives of six organizations.  Collections span 300 years, and are especially strong in material relating to Jewish life in New York.  Included are letters, diaries, photographs and images, legal documents, minutes, and other records. 

Organizational records include:

  • Papers of the Industrial Removal Office (1899-1922). The IRO helped Jewish immigrants to assimilate into American society both culturally and economically. Travelling agents investigated and identified potential employment opportunities for individuals and groups across America.
  • Papers of the Jewish Immigration Information Bureau (1901-1920). The records document the reception of Jewish immigrants through the port of Galveston, Texas rather than New York City, and efforts to resettle the immigrants in communities throughout the United States.

Personal records include:

  • Seixas Family Papers: includes papers relating to Gershom Mendes Seixas (1746-1816), who was named Hazzan of the Congregation Shearith Israel in 1768, served on the state Board of  Regents, and served as a Columbia College trustee from 1784-1814.  
  • Louis Marshall Papers (1905-1933). Marshall (1856-1929) was a lawyer and community leader.  This collection focuses 1907-1928, the period when the United States Congress debated and passed increasingly restrictive immigration legislation.
  • Marion E. Kenworthy Papers: Contains correspondence, newsletters and minutes of meetings of the Non-Sectarian Committee for German Refugee Children, which was established in 1938 to lobby the U.S. government to allow immigration for refugee children.

See the complete list of collections.

Jewish Life in America includes ‘My Archive’ and ‘My Lightbox’, special features that allow you to store searches and save documents and images across sessions.

Looking for additional online  manuscripts and archives?  The Center for Jewish History offers access to digital collections from the American Jewish Historical Society, the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Yeshiva University Museum. 


Ancestry Library

Researching a specific person, family, or town? Ancestry Library is a searchable database that includes census data through 1930, as well as records of births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and military service.  It also includes court, land, and probate records; prison records; voter lists; obituaries; passenger lists and other immigration data; as well as digitlized yearbooks, photos, maps, and much more.  


 If you have questions about using Ancestry Library, please call us (212-854-2241) or stop by the Reference desk in 301 Butler.

New database: Medieval Family Life

Just added to the Columbia Libraries roster of medieval resources, Medieval Family Life contains scanned images of 15th- and 16th-century correspondence along with full transcriptions.  The papers of the Paston, Cely, Plumpton, Stonor and Armbrugh families are accompanied by additional resources such as concurrent historical and family chronologies, an interactive map, family trees, and many more.

The letters are useful for, among other disciplines, social, political, and economic history, women’s studies, and as aides for late-medieval palaeography training.

Medieval Family Life

Bookmark or search for "Medieval Family Life" in the Libraries Databases listings.

For questions, contact the Ancient & Medieval History and Religion Librarian, Karen Green, at

How to Find City Histories, 1910-1940

Reference Librarian Mary Cargill suggests:

1.  NHGIS (  This is a free service from the University of
Minnesota.  Though I can’t find it on their website, the Map Division has the software,
and has experience using it.  It will map and create detailed information based on the
historical census statistics, and the students were finding it very useful.

2.  Census information.  We have the reproduction volumes in Butler Stack 2.  The population volumes are arranged alphabetically by state, and often (every one I have checked so far) there are charts for larger cities with fairly detailed statistics.  These volumes are also online in PDF, but they can be hard to search. Get the specific pages for the charts from the print volumes and then find them in the online version–this saves time.  There are also volumes for Occupations, which have some useful statistics.

3.  General histories of cities.  These can be found in CLIO under the subject, and also in WorldCat.  (NYPL has a lot of local histories that we don’t). 
City planning–[city] is also a useful subject heading.

4.  Planning documents.  Often (in every case I have had so far) cities have issued plans or studies.  These can be found several ways, and so far, I have found them using the bibliographies of the general histories, in WorldCat under the city as an author and planning or plans as a keyword, and references in PAIS.  Avery has some, and so does NYPL.

5.  Historical studiesAmerica History and Life has turned up some useful things, including books and dissertations.  For crime information, I have also found browsing JSTOR under Law journals has turned up some studies of crime in specific cities for the relevant years.  The hotel question is pretty much impossible, I have found.  It seems that this is local business information, and would probably be only available in city or state historical societies or archives.

6.  Sometimes these societies have material online, and Googling the city and historical society or archives or public library can help find material that they have put online.  I have found some historical maps this way.  NYPL Map Division is another option for older maps, as are general histories of cities.  (We have a WPA guide to Dallas, for example, that has a 1940 map).