These are some of the best ways to go about finding archival collections on a given topic or person. Some of these catalogs provide online finding aids or records describing collections:
Online Archive of California The OAC brings together historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies, and archives.
Calisphere The University of California's gateway to primary sources; it includes more than 200,000 digitized items — photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifacts — related tothe diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history. Calisphere's content has been selected from the libraries and museums of the UC campuses, and from a variety of cultural heritage organizations across California.
California Heritage Collection Contains more than 30,000 images illustrating California's history and culture, from the collections of the Bancroft Library @ UC Berkeley.
Huntington Library Search the library's catalog of rare books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps, and other materials in the fields of British and American history and literature.
ONE: National Gay & Lesbian Archive Over 600 archival collections of personal papers from activists, artists and ordinary citizens, as well as records from LGBTQ political, social, educational and cultural organizations. The collections include a wide array of materials such as manuscripts, photographs, letters, graphics, and other historically significant materials. ONE’s collection of subject files comprises approximately 10,000 distinct files containing newspaper clippings, journal and magazine articles, brochures, and other printed materials.
Search ONE’s subject files catalog or view the finding aids for this collection on the Online Archive of California.
The Regional Oral History Office (ROHO), University of California, Berkeley ROHO conducts, teaches, analyzes, and archives oral and video history documents in a broad variety of subject areas critical to the history of California and the United States.
Seaver Center for Western History Research The purpose of the Seaver Center is to collect, preserve, and make accessible to the general public research materials documenting the history of the trans-Mississippi West, with special emphasis on Southern California and Los Angeles. The collection includes manuscripts, books, serials, pamphlets, broadsides, maps, posters, prints, and photographs.
Southern California Library The SCL documents and preserves the histories of communities in struggle for justice and uses its collections to address the challenges of the present.
USC Digital Library Helps to fulfill the mission of the USC Libraries to select, collect, preserve, and make accessible high quality digital images of unique materials with metadata to support research, and provides a gateway to resources on Los Angeles and Southern California.
USC Special Collections Offers access to a wide range of primary source material in all formats, including resources of interest to researchers in US History. Special Collections encompass rare books, manuscripts, and archival collections. In addition to housing a high proportion of rare and unique materials, Special Collections also contains many thematic special collections whose individual parts may not be 'valuable' or 'rare', but, as an aggregate, constitute a historically significant body of material. Main areas of strength include: Los Angeles regional history; American literature; Lion Feuchtwanger and the German émigré experience; natural history; Iberian, Latin American, and U.S. Hispanics studies, and USC history and the university’s intellectual life. USC Archival Collections Search
American Antiquarian Society
An independent research library founded in 1812 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The library's collections document the life, culture and history of American people from the colonial era through the Civil War and Reconstruction (1876). Collections include books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, broadsides, manuscripts, music, graphic arts, and local histories.
Offers permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format, including texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt to permanently preserve the nation's most important documents, NARA's major holdings date back to 1775. They capture the sweep of the past: slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation; captured German records and the Japanese surrender documents from World War II; journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers; Indian treaties making transitory promises; and the Louisiana Purchase Treaty that doubled the territory of the young republic. NARA keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year; however, this amounts to billions of pages of documentation.
Provides access to archival and manuscript collections in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alaska, Utah and Washington through a union database of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids. Subjects include the major economic forces in the region- agriculture, forest, products, fisheries, and natural resources; urban and rural social and progressive movements; local state, regional, and national politics; outdoor recreation; Native American language and culture; and the place of religious communities in the region.