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Urban Studies Research Resources

A guide to the wide variety of research resources and services available through the UWM Libraries for Urban Studies research.

Microtext Research Collection

The UWM Libraries' Microtext Research Collection (within the Media Library, west wing, lower level) houses many primary sources.

Milwaukee Photos & Maps

The Digital Collections at the UWM Libraries include over 41,000 photographic images, maps, and books drawn from the collections of the American Geographical Society Library, the Archives, Special Collections, and the Curriculum Library. 

Other Photos & Images

Useful Websites

What Are Primary Sources

Primary sources are sources of information which help to inform us on the past, because they serve as evidence. They were created contemporary to, or very near to, the event or time period being studied, and thus they are representative.

Primary Sources include:

  • Original documentary evidence from a given historical period
  • Materials which were produced at the time of the event or idea under study
  • Materials that provide the intimacy and the immediacy of an on-the-scene perspective that cannot be recaptured in distant, often refiltered and reinterpreted history

Primary Sources can take many forms, such as:

  • photographs
  • letters
  • drawings
  • diaries
  • newspaper articles of eyewitness accounts
  • statistical information
  • historical documents
  • books
  • films
  • posters
  • play scripts
  • speeches
  • songs / sheet music
  • first-person accounts / personal experiences

 

Legal Sources:

The actual law itself is a primary source, whether statutory, administrative (regulations) or case law.

Example: The United States Code is a primary source. A book discussing and explaining the code is a secondary source.

 

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

 

Primary sources are original material or data, while secondary sources are analyses, interpretations, or comments on the primary sources. Examples:

Primary

Secondary

Autobiographies

Books
Letters Journal Articles
Photographs Encyclopedias

Firsthand Accounts

of an Event

Dictionaries
Official Memoranda Reviews
Laws and Treaties Critical Essays

Different Formats and Some Examples

Document or Manuscript is a written or printed work such as the Declaration of Independence or a grocery list written in 1933. Almost all the collections in the UWM Archives are comprised of documents or manuscripts.

Photographs are another common resource. To locate them, find the catalog records of those particular collections which include photographs: search Search@UW by using the term Photographs in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.

Sound recordings will be on a variety of mediums (LP, digital file, cassette tape) and provide rich audio resources. To locate them, find catalog records of those particular collections which include them by searching Search@UW: use the term Sound recordings in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.

Video recordings are rich in visual and audio source material. To locate them, find catalog records of the collections which include them by searching Search@UW: use the term Video recordings in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.

Oral histories are recordings of an individual's personal recollections of the past. They are sometimes transcribed on paper, and sometimes the complete audio recording is available. To locate them, find catalog records of the collections which include them by searching Search@UW: use the term Oral history in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.

Minutes are the official recordings of meetings. They are sometimes handwritten, but most often found typed, printed or published. To locate, find catalog records of the collections which include them by searching Search@UW: use the term Minutes in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.

Diaries are first-person accounts, traditionally written on paper, but increasingly found on other mediums. To locate, find catalog records of the collections which include them by searching Search@UW: use the term Diaries in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.   

Scrapbooks are compilations of a variety of materials, such as photos, letters, news clippings, and organics (flowers, locks of hair). To locate, find catalog records of the collections which include them by searching Search@UW: use the term Scrapbooks in the "Search for" box; then set "Search by" to Subject Heading (keyword) and "Limit to" Archives.