Saturday, February 07, 2009

The American Historical Association Archives Wiki

The American Historical Association,, was founded in 1889 and has a website that includes items that would be of interest to the genealogist. One resource is an index of history journals with links to their websites. Although meant for writers to find a forum for their work, this can also be a tool for genealogists who need to know about history journals for the locality they are researching. Journals can provide articles about places, eras and famous people. The AHA blog includes entries with links to history podcasts and a regular feature “what we are reading” that can introduce you to new history books, periodicals and websites. One blog topic was Women and War,, which provided various links to websites that looked at women’s roles in war throughout American history.

Another important resource on the AHA website is the Archives Wiki, Archives are an important part of any historical or genealogical research. Part of our research must include finding and using primary documents. Part of the value of an archive is that it is a place that contains primary documents as well as secondary sources such as newspapers, books, and periodicals.

It can be difficult to find archives in the locality or that cover the subject area you are researching. Some archives do not an internet presence; those who are unfamiliar with types of archives may have difficulty finding the one they need. The American Historical Association has taken a step to providing a place to find archives and information about them, The Archives Wiki at

According to it’s homepage, The Archives Wiki is “intended to be a clearinghouse of information about archival resources throughout the world.” This free resource has information about U.S. archives and numerous countries, although not comprehensive it does provide a good starting point for finding information about archives that might assist you in your research. Because the nature of a Wiki is that it is a collaborative work, not all US states are covered here-about 15 states are blank, waiting for someone to provide the information. This is an active Wiki, the day I checked it changes had been made as recently as that day.

The Wiki is organized by states or country. Once you choose the locality you are interested in, a list of archives will be listed. Choose an archive and the information, depending on the contributor will include everything from logistics, date, time and address the archive is open, to a description of the facility and helpful information for researchers. This helpful information can include places to eat, and information about lodging.

One example of an archives listing can be found at This listing is for the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The listing begins by explaining the address, telephone, internet site and directors names. It goes on to explain who can research there. There is a good size summary of the collection followed by helpful tips about food and lodging for those who planning on researching at the library for a length of time.

Contributor Guidelines dictate that information follows a nine step outline for each archive entered that include: institution name, address and contact info, hours and usage restrictions, online catalogs and finding aids, collection summary, usage discussion, fellowship and funding opportunities, major topic areas, and categories.

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