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LIBRARY GUIDE TO ENG 3640 - Biography

Locating Authors' Archives
The manuscripts, letters, journals, diaries, photographs, birth certificates, newspapers, notes, cartoons, sketches, personal copies of books, and realia of a famous person are often scattered across multiple archives, museums, and private collections--if they've survived at all. Try these three means of locating your author's papers:

Use this open-access source to search over 4 million collocated archival records with links to the contact information and finding aids. Results can be filtered by topic, archive location, and named persons in the material.

Search the WWW for archives of literary figures in museums, academic and public libraries, historical societies, and private collections. Since Google crawls the full text of webpages, try different synonyms like papers, archives, collection listing, finding aid, or correspondence with the name of your author.

Or, use a Boolean search (yes, even in Google!) to account for multiple synonyms at once. Keep phrases together with quotation marks--"T. S. Eliot" instead of George Eliot, Howard Eliot, Eliot Ness, etc. 

Published Criticism
Published books and articles can also point you to useful caches of documents, photographs, etc., about your literary figure. Check critical companions, the bibliographies, introductions and indexes of scholarly books, and the supplementary materials of critical editions for the location of other source material. The papers of famous individuals are often collected, edited, and published, as well, such as The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 1: 1898-1922. Find scholarly books on your figure by searching the library catalog--remembering to invert your figure's name: "Eliot, T. S."--and peruse the references of scholarly articles found on JSTOR or the MLA International Bibliography. 


Considering Access Restrictions
Why Aren't There Digitized Copies of These Documents?
Published by the U.S. Copyright Office, this short document on the "Duration of U.S. Copyright" advises when literary creations can become part of the public domain. 

Further (Short) Reading:
Library Contact
Picture: Emily Spunaugle

Emily Spunaugle
Assistant Professor, Humanities Librarian


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Citing Archival Sources

Many archives have preferred ways for their collections to be cited. If a given archive doesn't stipulate how to cite an item, check out the Purdue OWL's guide to Citing Archival Sources.
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