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University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Finding Primary Sources

The UO Libraries holds specialized, primary source collections on various topics and in various formats.

Special Collections & University Archives | University of Oregon Libraries

UO Special Collections & University Archives are the caretakers of some of the Libraries' most unique items. This is the main location at UO where you can view primary sources in their original form. 

Start by browsing the descriptions of these collections on the pages linked above. Detailed inventories of over 100 of our manuscript collections are available from Archives West. Once you have some idea of what you want to look at, more information can be found by visiting the Special Collections Reading Room. Check their web site for current hours before making a visit.

If you would like to work with Oregon Trail diaries, the papers of missionaries to China, medieval manuscripts, a children's book illustrator collection or materials about the history of the University of Oregon, Special Collections is the place to go.

Historical Collection Strengths

  • Oregon history, politics, culture
  • Authors and illustrators of children’s books
  • The conservative and libertarian movement in the last half of the twentieth century
  • Popular literature, with an emphasis on Western fiction
  • Missionaries to foreign countries, especially in the Far East
  • Labor History
  • Journalism and Communications
  • Photographs of the Northwest, including the Major Lee Moorhouse and Angelus Studio collections
  • Environmental history
  • Northwest literature, including fiction by Ken Kesey, Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, Ursula K. Le Guin, Molly Gloss, and William Stafford
  • Doris Ulmann photograph archives of Appalachia
  • Utopian and intentional communities
  • Northwest architecture
  • Northwest economic history


Document Center | University of Oregon Libraries

The United States government is reputed to be the largest publisher in the world. The Document Center on the 1st floor of the Knight Library holds a wealth of government information from the U.S. and beyond with particular strengths in documents from Canada and Great Britain (back to the first parliament of 1067), intergovernmental organizations (such as the European Union, the League of Nations, and the United Nations), and state and local documents from Oregon. From the mid 19th-century to around 1920 the Government Documents collection also has strong collections of documents from other states.

Among many other topics government documents could be used to research:

  • Trends in invention and design through the patent record
  • The condition of 19th-century asylums in New York state
  • Lewis & Clark's report to Thomas Jefferson and other documents of 19th-century exploration
  • U.S. relations with Native Americans
  • International relations through intergovernmental and national documents
  • Environmental history through scientific observations recorded by surveyors and explorers
  • The post-war records of the French parliament