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Fashion History: A Guide to Library Research: Primary Sources


What makes a source

Depends on the topic;
it can be complicated. 

Talk specifics with your advisor.

Very basic, simplistic definition:
What is a primary source?

What is Microfilm?


Fabulous archival primary source material has been filmed over the years, but using it will take some getting used to.  Ask for help with microfilm, microfiche, or microcards at a reference desk!

A sense of what it is and how you use it: Using Microfilm

Newspapers Tips

With the exception of the
collections listed here,
newspapers are generally
not available full text before 1980,
especially non-US papers.

But older newspapers are
often available on microfilm

and can be interlibrary loaned.
There will be no index and
using newspapers on microfilm
is hard, time-consuming work.

To locate newspapers on
microfilm, use:

country = subject
newspaper* = keyword,
limit =
serial publications
format = microfilm. 
Do NOT specify dates.

Fashion History

Berg Fashion Library
Includes images, the Encyclopedia of world dress and fashion, e-books, e-journals, museum directory, reference works, and more.

Magazines & Periodicals

Vogue Archive A complete searchable archive of American Vogue, from the first issue in 1892 to the current month. Every article, cover, photo shoot, illustration and advertisement has been digitized to the highest standard, with rich indexing enabling you to find images by designer and brand names.

The Women's Wear Daily archive A comprehensive archive of Women's Wear Daily, from the first issue in 1910 to material from within the last twelve months, reproduced in high-resolution, full color images. Every page, article, advertisement and cover has been included, with searchable text and indexing. The Women's Wear Daily Archive preserves one of the fashion industry's most influential reads. Key moments in the history of the industry, as well as major designers, brands, retailers and advertisers are all covered in this publication of record.

Readers' guide retrospectiveComprehensive index of the most popular general-interest periodicals published in the United States 1890 through 1982.

American Periodical Series/APS online.  1740-1900. Indexes special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children’s and women’s magazines. Useful for historical advertising. Information and fashion images database for the fashion and style industries including fashion forecasting, design, company profiles and news items on e-commerce, finance, advertising and marketing. Note: You must create a free account in order to log in and access this site. Accounts last 90 days and are renewable. Accounts must be created from an on-campus computer.

Sears Catalog

Catalog of Sears, Roebuck and Company
Cornell has both print and microfilm.

Library Annex Call Number: TS199 .S43
FALL & WINTER: 1928/1929-1930/1931,1934,1936/1937, 1938/1939,1940/1941-1942/1943,1946/1947, 1951/1952-1953/1954,1956/1957,1963,1966/1967,1969-1970, 1974-1987,1989 SPRING & SUMMER:1934,1936,1941-1942,1944,1955,1957, 1964,1969-1970,1975-1985,1987-1988,1991 CHRISTMAS: 1968-1970,1975,1978-1979,1981-1984,1986; WINTER SALE:1968,1970 SUMMER:1969-1970 SPECIAL EDITIONS:1961,1989 SUMMER TOY CATALOG:1975 ANNUAL HARDWARE CATALOG:1988/1989 PREMIER CATALOG:1989 STYLE CATALOG:1989-1990 HOME CATALOG:1989 FALL UPDATE:1990 1991:spring/summer 1991:supplement 1992:spr./summer 1992/1993:fall/winter 1992 (Christmas ed.) 1992:spring/summer 1993:spring/summer 

Mann Library Call Number: HF5862 .S43c
no.202-206 (1951-1953) 1953/1954-1993 FARM EQUIPMENT CATALOG:1956
Mann Library Special Collections (Non-Circulating) no.171 Fall & Winter 1935; no.112,116-117-124,127 (1902,1908-1912,1913/1914) no.129-201 (1914-1950)

Library Annex--Film 4743 Volumes : no.116-201 (1908-1950/1951)=Reel 27-109


United States

American Historical Newspapers Online

ProQuest historical newspapers. The New York Times (1851-2003), the Wall Street Journal (1889-1989), the Washington Post (1877-1990), every page from every issue in PDF files.

America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1876.  

Accessible archives: primary source material from 18th and 19th century periodicals.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers In development. Newspaper pages from 1880-1910

Poole's Plus: Indices to Nineteenth-Century Newspapers, Periodicals, Books and Government Documents 

More American newspapers...


The Times digital archive, 1785-2006 Full-text and full-image articles from the Times of London for the years 1785-2006.

Paper of record. Historical archive of full-page newspaper images dating from the 1700's. Included are newspapers from Australia, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom and United States of America. Many of these titles date from the early 1800s to the mid 1900s.

More international newspapers...

Online Collections

The March of Time

A unique and controversial newsfilm series made 1935-1967, available in a searchable online video collection.

Evans digital edition (American Imprints) Books printed in the US during the 17th and 18th century American life.  

Eighteenth century collections online (ECCO). English-language and foreign-language books, pamphlets, broadsides, ephemera printed in the UK and the Americas, between 1701 and 1800.

Early English books online (EEBO) Covers 1450-1661.

Guide to full text of pre-1800 Imprints, British and American at Cornell

Early encounters in North America: peoples, cultures, and the environment. 1534 to 1850. The collection focuses on personal accounts and provides unique perspectives from all of the protagonists, including traders, slaves, missionaries, explorers, soldiers, native peoples, and officials, both men and women. 

American journeys eyewitness accounts of early American exploration and settlement.  Eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies. 

Making of America Primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library Primary-source collections on American history and culture, including photographs, documents, sound recordings, and motion pictures.

ARTFL Full-text online of nearly 2000 French texts seventeenth to twentieth centuries.

Gallica Includes many digitized collections of primary sources originally published in the 19th century.

AccuNet/AP Multimedia Archive.  Current and historical images for the last 150 years from the Association Press.

Southeast Asia Visions is a digital collection of European travel accounts of pre-modern (1613 - 1920s) Southeast Asia.

Web Accessibility Assistance