The Brown University Library has in its holdings a wealth of material for historical research. Uncovering this material can be something of a challenge. Some formats (books, databases) are more readily discovered and user-friendly than others (microform). This guide is intended to suggest strategies and pathways that can be used to identify research collections that are most appropriate to historical topics.
Most state and local historical societies have now transferred the electronic backfile of their signature journals to JSTOR (linked below). Others rely on home-grown database systems for backfile management. If you cannot find the journal you are seeking in JSTOR, check the official website of the relevant historical society for information on where electronic copy, if any exists, might be found.
Many research collections at the Brown University Library are available for use only on microform -- a pre-digital technology for preserving, distributing and storing research materials on film, fiche or opaque card stock. Microform collections require the use of a specialized machine reader which magnifies the image so as to render it readable.
Microform collections and machine readers are available to researchers on Level B of the Rockefeller Library. A state of the art machine reader on Level B allows researchers to capture an image either as a printed paper copy, or as a digital image which can be stored on a USB memory stick. Paper copies can be charged to your Brown card; for digital copies, you will need to bring your own memory stick.
Microform collections can be difficult to search successfully in the Library Catalog due to the format of the catalog record. To identify microform collections in the holdings of the Brown University Library that are pertinent to your topic, we suggest that you try using BruKnow to search for "[topic] microfilm."
Some examples of primary documents that have been digitized as database collections: