Special Collections specializes not only in collecting, preserving, and providing access to materials that document the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but also houses a wealth of material documenting the history of the United States as well as other nations. Materials include primary and secondary sources and exist in a variety of formats, including: oral histories, manuscripts, rare books, photographs, and moving images. Special Collections also maintains a records management program for all records generated by the University, thereby serving as the University's archival repository.
For tips on how to conduct research using primary sources, click here.
The Special Collections Breckinridge Research Room is located in the M.I. King building on the second floor and is open:
Monday - Friday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
When using the collections, please remember:
Primary sources are the raw materials of history. They are the original documents or creative works generated in the time period under study. Often, but not always, primary sources contain or demonstrate the perspective of its creator as in, for example, a diary or letter. However, government documents and reports can be primary sources but fail to express an individual’s perspective. For example, the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals issues an annual report which contains rich data for someone researching coal production in a particular year, but it does not offer a personal perspective. Sometimes primary sources can be found on the Internet, often in the form of digitized historical documents and government records, such as the U.S. Census.
Other examples of primary sources:
Artifacts (clothing, furniture, tools, buildings, paintings, artwork)
First-person accounts (including newspaper accounts)
Government publications (statistics, court reports)
Historical documents including broadsides, last wills and testaments, posters, and maps
Draft copies of literary works
Correspondence (i.e., written or electronic letters, email)
Official government or corporate/business records or papers
Audio recordings (e.g., radio programs, speeches, oral histories, music)
Film/Video/Digital Visual Recordings
A secondary source of information is one that was created later by someone who did not experience first-hand or participate in the events or conditions you’re researching. For the purposes of a historical research project, secondary sources are generally scholarly books and articles. Also included would be reference sources like encyclopedias. (Univ. of Illinois Library)