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HIST 4990 U.S. Environment-Dr. Drake (Special Collections): Primary Sources at UGA and Beyond

This guide provides resources for the Spring 2022 sections of the HIST 4990 Senior Seminars focused on the Georgia Coast taught by Dr. Drake and Dr. Berry

Tips and Tricks Requesting and Using Archival materials at UGA Special Collections

Before you visit...

Know the Rules
Most special collections and archives have some special rules for using materials that are different from visiting a library.  Generally, these rules  help keep the one-of-a-kind materials safe and accessible by  ensuring careful handling, by maintaining security, and by being responsive to the specific needs of a careity of formats. Each archives or special collections  has specific policies and procedures and its a good idea to check them out before you visit. Check out Russell Library Research Policies and Procedures   

Place Your Order
The Russell Library has online guides ( finding aids)  for all of its collections that are open for research.  You can browse and request the materials you want to come in and look at using any computer or laptop with an internet connection.  You can make requests in advance of your arrival at the special collections building, or you can make requests when you arrive.  There are staffmembers  available in the  research lobby located on the third floor next to the elevators to help you with requesting.

Russell Library is open Monday-Friday from 8-4:45 p.m.

What to Bring with You:

  • Notes from secondary source reading (key dates, key events, key people)
  • A picture id
  • Laptop for notetaking (recommended)

What to Leave at Home

  • Digital Cameras (Russell Library does not allow digital photography in the reading room.  You can request photocopies @ $.25 per page.
  • Pens (Russell Library provides pencils and paper for notetaking.

Tips and Tricks

While You Research

Give yourself enough time to make progress.  It often takes a long time to go through all the materials that you hope are relevant to your topic. Plan to visit when you can spend at least an hour of concentrated work. Note that 4:30p.m. is the last call for making new requests for materials to be delivered to the reading room that same day.

Remember to gather citation information as you look through materials in the Russell Research Room.  This will save time with citations later. Note the following items:

  • Name of Collection
  • Name of the Series
  • Name of the Folder
  • Name of the Item

Tips and Tricks-Keyword Searching

The Archivists' Quest 

Before archives integrated the full magic of the internet, patrons had to browse paper (gasp!) inventories of collections to find relevant materials. They had to read the information at the beginning of a collection finding aid to know which boxes to browse if they wanted to save time, or if they had lots of time on their hands, they could review the entire finding aid until they found something that seemed relevant. This was time-consuming and frustrating to patrons who were looking for something specific in a big collection.

Once archivists moved finding aids online, and better yet,  loaded these finding aids into searchable databases, people could enter keywords and get a quick list of results with the hits for the term highlighted.  There was broad rejoicing among patrons--searching in archives was now fast and simple. Archivists liked the fast simple searching too, but they also noticed that quick keyword browsing often stopped people from discovering related materials described by different terms.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and handing-wringing among these archivists, but eventually, they came to their senses and realized that they could mount a campaign among patrons to reinvigorate the value of browsing and to hone keyword searching skills. No longer would patrons give up when their first keyword search failed to yield good results! Instead, they would brainstorm other ideas for terms to try.  In their free time, patrons would browse finding aids instead of texting and browsing Facebook.  

Make their dream a reality! 

Keyword Search Tips and Tricks

Brainstorm terms related to  your topic

  • Try different versions of the same word (example: Cuba, Cuban)
  • Try terms that are specific and general (example: Athens, Georgia, the South)
  • Explore the variety of descriptive terms that different groups used to describe the same people, events, places, and ideas (example: Civil War vs. War between the States, activists vs. agitators, protesters vs. rabble) 
  • Explore the evolution of meaning of terms over time.  Words that mean something to us today may have different meanings earlier in time or at specific moments in time.  ("busing" in the early 1970s is about implementation of desegregation orders in the early 1970s in the American South, whereas today, "busing" might be about environmental issues related to transportation)
  • Think like a file clerk. sometimes collections are organized by subjects, but often they are organized around dates, alphabetical listings of names, or by the group or individual that produced the records. If you don't find any files called "Cuban Missile Crisis" in a search of a politician's papers from the early 1960s, there is a good chance that there are relevant materials in  a folder called "1962." (The more you know; the MORE YOU KNOW!)

Never Admit Defeat!

  • If you try all of the tricks described above and still don't find what you are looking for, consider browsing the finding aids for materials donated by  people who are likely to be involved  in your topic.  Remember, every finding aid has a biography abotu the person or group that created or collected the materials.  
  • Never be aftaid to ask an archivist for help; that's why we're here. We work for you! 

Searching for Primary Sources at UGA and Beyond

The Russell Library and the Hargrett Library each maintain databases for  their  collection finding aids (guides). These finding aids  outline what is in each collection down to the level of folder titles or in some cases to item level. To find materials related to your topic, you can keyword search across both the Hargrett and Russell databases, or you can  select to search one of them specifically at:


To get a feel for the process of keyword searching and browsing across Hargrett and Russell databases, enter "environment" into the search engine and explore the results.

Next, try some other terms that might be related to your topic or a more specific aspect of the general search term "environment" such as air pollution or wetlands (see the suggestions for terms to try on the Environmental History Keywords section on this page.  

What if you don't find what you want?  

  • Brainstorm other terms that describe your topic. Look for articles or books on the general subject you are exploring to find additional keyword options.
  • Remember, to think historically--what words did people use at the time to describe or discuss your topic? 
  • Remember think like a file clerk--what are some simple organizational strategies that you might use to organize files--alphabetical by contact's last name, chronological by name, functional arrangement--by the division or team in an office--for example, the public relations office files. 
  • All of this brainstorming should give you some more terms to try. 

Still no luck?

Try searching in the UGA Libraries GIL Catalog or in Galileo.  There actually a lot of primary sources located in the regular collections such as newspapers and other primary materials on microfilm, published diaries, annual reports, memoirs, government documents, and more.  Some are available in the stacks, some area available online through Galileo, and some are available on microfilm or microfiche in the basement of the main library. 

Suggested Galileo databases with primary sources:

Try searching in other archives using ArchiveGrid  to see what else is available in archives nearby. Remember, to look at the summary view tab. 

Try searching the following online sources for primary materials: 

Don't give up!
Set up a zoom research appointment by emailing Jill Severn, or visit during her office hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3-4:30 p.m.  3rd floor, Special Collections Building.

Archives, Archives, Everywhere! Search Tools for Locating Primary Sources

ArchiveGrid is a search engines that helps users find information about historical materials in over 1,000a rchives, libraries, museums and historical societies around the United States.  if you are looking for primary sources  related to your project topic, this a great place to start your search.  (Remember, this site will provide information about the sources and where they are located, but may does not provide direct access to digitized versions of the materials)

Search ArchiveGrid
Find archival collections and primary source materials

Environmental History Keywords

Try these keywords to locate archival materials related to environmental history:

Example keywords to search:

  • Environment
  • Environmental
  • environmentalist
  • Georgia Conservancy.
  • Northeast Georgia Area Planning and Development Commission..
  • Botanists--Georgia.
  • Botany--Georgia.
  • Civic leaders--Georgia.
  • Conservation of natural resources--Georgia.
  • Conservation of natural resources--Societies, etc.
  • Environmentalists--Georgia.
  • Nature conservation--Georgia--Societies
  • Regional planning--Citizen participation.
  • Regional planning--Georgia.
  • Women environmentalists--Georgia.
  • Odum, Eugene Pleasants, 1913-2002
  • Drought
  • Flood
  • F.E.M.A.
  • G.E.M.A.
  • Rivers
  • Harbors
  • Dams
  • Control
  • Waterways
  • Air pollution
  • Smog
  • Emergency
  • Super fund
  • Contamination
  • Wetlands
  • endangered species
  • threatened
  • protected
  • forests
  • turpentine
  • naval stores
  • plantation
  • monoculture
  • pests
  • pest control
  • invasive species
  • eradication
  • quarantine
  • DDT
  • guano
  • fertilizer
  • effluent
  • Superfund site
  • Environmental Protection Administration (E.P.A.)
  • Department of Interior
  • coral bleaching
  • kudzu
  • screw worms
  • Hog Cholera
  • contamination 


Archives with Environmental History Related Collections

Archives in Environmental History

This url  enables you to view and search descriptions of archival collections related to the broad field of environmental history. This is a curated collection of archival resources provided by the American Society for Environmental History 



Glossary of Key Terms

Archival:  adj. ~ 1. Of or pertaining to archives. - 2. Records · Having enduring value; permanent. - 3. Records media · Durable; lacking inherent vice; long-lived; see archival quality. - 4. Storage conditions · Not causing degradation. - 5. Procedures · Following accepted standards that ensure maximum longevity. - 6. Computing · Information of long-term value that, because of its low use, is stored on offline media and must be reloaded, or that is in a form that must be reconstructed before use.

Constituent: n. ~ a person who authorizes another to act in his or her behalf, as a voter in a district represented by an elected official.

Constituent correspondence: n. ~ Letters received by elected officials from individuals in their districts, often expressing the authors' opinions on matters of public policy or seeking assistance in interactions with the government.

Finding Aid: n. ~ 1. A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. - 2. A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.

Flexys: n. ~ Refers to a specific tracking system that was used by some congressional offices in the 1960s and 70s to manage constituent mail.  The system  began with attaching the actual letter (incoming and outgoing), along with copies of approved response paragraphs. These materials were then organized under a subject access point. With the adoption of the on-line correspondence management system (CMS) in the 1970s, computer databases became a key component of the correspondence records, and access became more flexible, but dependent on the CMS. This system provided word processing; the capability of inserting selected, approved paragraphs; personalized salutations and closings; personalized text; the ability to create targeted mailing lists; correspondence records; mail count on issues; automatic filing; and correspondence tracking. 

Primary Source: n. ~ Material that contains firsthand accounts of events and that was created contemporaneous to those events or later recalled by an eyewitness.

Record: n. ~ 1. A written or printed work of a legal or official nature that may be used as evidence or proof; a document. - 2. Data or information that has been fixed on some medium; that has content, context, and structure; and that is used as an extension of human memory or to demonstrate accountability. - 3. Data or information in a fixed form that is created or received in the course of individual or institutional activity and set aside (preserved) as evidence of that activity for future reference. - 4. An instrument filed for public notice (constructive notice); see recordation. - 5. Audio · A phonograph record. - 6. Computing · A collection of related data elements treated as a unit, such as the fields in a row in a database table.- 7. Description · An entry describing a work in a catalog; a catalog record.

Secondary Source: n. ~ 1. A work that is not based on direct observation of or evidence directly associated with the subject, but instead relies on sources of information. - 2. A work commenting on another work (primary sources), such as reviews, criticism, and commentaries.

Series: n. ~ 1. A group of similar records that are arranged according to a filing system and that are related as the result of being created, received, or used in the same activity; a file group; a record series