ArchiveGrid connects you with primary source material held in archives, special collections, and manuscript collections around the world. You will find historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. ArchiveGrid also helps researchers contact archives to request information, arrange a visit, and order copies.

Archive Grid connects you to archives in your area & around the world

We’re pleased to profile ArchiveGrid today on the Library as Incubator Project. ArchiveGrid is a database and discovery service developed as a re-design of OCLC’s RLG Archival Resources database in order to make it more useful for researchers working with primary source materials. ArchiveGrid is available as a subscription, but the goal is to ultimately turn this resource into a free service. The beta discovery interface that OCLC Research is developing is freely available here, and invites users– researchers and librarians and archivists alike– to contribute to the project and submit comments that will continuously improve the service.

Artists & researchers:

ArchiveGrid offers an array of search options and services you can use to research your next project using primary source material– original documents, letters, photographs, manuscripts and other wonderful records preserved by archives all over the world.  Here are a few highlights from a quick tour around the site:

  • Use the Find an Archives Near You function (pictured above).  Located on the center of the home page, this function allows you to plug in your zip code and find archives in your area.  You can then explore the descriptions of their collections and get in touch to arrange an in-person visit.
  • Use the Narrow By Archive search option on the left sidebar.  You can search for archives that collect and preserve documents and materials related to Arts, Society and culture, Performing arts and music, and other broad topics.  Clicking on a topic here will open a page that links to an alphabetical listing of archives around the world and their collections related to the topic.
  • Use the search box in the top right corner.  This function allows you to search for specific topics, people, places, etc., which may be collected in many different archives under many auspices. A few tips for searching:  if you search multiple words, you will only return records with all the words you list.  Likewise, if you’d like to search for a phrase like “Harlem Renaissance,” remember to put it in quotes. You can find more useful search tips for ArchiveGrid here.
  • Let serendipity guide your search. ArchiveGrid includes daily features on the website that highlight beautiful items found in the database’s many collections, like these pages of dried flowers from a diary collected by the Harvard University Library. The homepage’s right sidebars also feature a daily question (for instance: What did George Ellsworth Hooker know about streets?) and a link to the archival record where the answer may be found, like this record from University of Chicago.
There are so many possibilities for artists to use this information as they research new work and look for inspiration.  Writers and poets might allow the highlighted resources and questions to serve as a daily writing prompt.  Musicians will find collections of original scores and handwritten manuscripts, and visual artists will find vast collection of art exhibitions available at National Galleries around the world.
Once you find something interesting, ArchiveGrid can connect you to the holding archives so you can visit in-person or request copies of original materials.  Amazing, right?

Archivists & librarians:

Do your collections include primary source material, like photographs, manuscripts, or artists’ and writers’ personal papers that artists use to research and inspire projects?  ArchiveGrid offers a rare opportunity to connect with artists around the world who use primary source material in their work– we’d love to hear about your experiences collaborating with them, and if ArchiveGrid has brought new interest to your collections!

Not on ArchiveGrid? Would you like your collections included in this resource discovery interface?  You can contribute your finding aids to the project by filling out this simple form.  It costs nothing and is quick to do!

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