In Search of the Past: Historical Resources at the Peterson Library

Bob Belletzkie

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We all know what’s happening today. You can hardly avoid newspapers, radio and television, Internet streaming media, tweets, feeds, email alerts, and the like. But where do you go to find out what happened yesterday, a decade or a century ago, or earlier? Of course, there are many Internet sites that offer their services, usually with no guarantee of authenticity and sometimes for a price, but the Peterson Library gives you the real thing at no charge! Of course, it goes without saying that the Library’s book collection offers plenty to be found by searching the catalog, but there is much more.

Primary source material, historical indexes, and peer-reviewed articles from yesterday to as far back as you want to go are located inside. Consider these items:
Historical newspapers. We have access to the Hartford Courant going back to 1764, The New York Times from 1851, and the Los Angeles Times starting in 1881. Read about George Washington besting the British at Yorktown in 1787, the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, and the Moon landing in 1969. These are in PDF format and have access features that allow you to read the newspaper cover to cover!

Historical periodicals and indexes. Need older articles from Time, Business Week, Engineering News-Record? We have long back runs of many periodicals and the accompanying print indexes that enable you to quickly find articles by subject in them. By using the Journals link on our home page to check our holdings and having us obtain from other libraries what we don’t have here, you can get nearly anything you ask for. Forms are available at the Information Desk and online from the Interlibrary Loan link on our homepage.

History Resource Center: U.S. and History Resource Center: World. These two databases are especially geared to help you get historical background information for your papers and research projects. They both have chronologies of events, subject indexes, and keyword access, as well as advanced search features that allow you to limit to a certain historical period, publication timeframe, or type of document.

Content includes primary sources, periodical articles, news items, maps and multi-media materials.

Biography Resource Center. This is a close cousin to the two above and offers personal history information about notable as well as lesser known personages. You can search by categories like artists, musicians, Nobel Prize winners, Obama administration officials, Olympians, social reformers, and combinations of criteria like occupation, gender, nationality, or ethnic identity. And you can always just look directly for a specific person you need to find.

Gale Virtual Reference Library. There are a number of treasures hidden here including the American Decades and the American Decades Primary Sources series. Other works deal with the Great Depression, the Holocaust, Supreme Court cases, the Vietnam War and more. And most of these are multi-volume compilations with broad coverage and no shortage of material.

Credo Reference. This database is a powerhouse, currently with 463 dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks and other treatises. They deal with the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds, as well as topical subjects like the history of alcohol and temperance, immigration, propaganda, and conspiracy theories. There are hyperlinked cross-references and the tool at the bottom of each article will flip the citation from MLA to APA and other formats with the click of the mouse.

AP Images. The old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words goes a long way here. This is AP as in Associated Press, the news service that dates back to 1848. AP has one of the world’s largest collections of historical and contemporary imagery with millions of photos of the famous people, places, objects, and the events of the past. Nothing dresses up a PowerPoint presentation like some visual images and there are lots to choose from here.

The best news of all is that most of our electronic resources are available 24/7 from the Peterson Library website at Click on the Databases link on our homepage and log in with your UNH email ID and password. Use the Subject Listing for best access by topical grouping. For assistance, visit us at the Information Desk, phone us at 203-932-7189, or email us at We are always ready to help with your reference and research needs!

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In Search of the Past: Historical Resources at the Peterson Library