Other Primary Sources at Wesleyan
The term 'primary sources,' formerly restricted to manuscripts and other unpublished materials, today encompasses printed works like newspapers, journals, and books whose physical attributes convey incomparable evidence about the times in which their texts were produced and received. As print facsimiles and microform and digital reproductions become more widespread, growing numbers of scholars recognize how much can be learned from a textual artifact's information and aura. (The same holds true, of course, for graphics and other museum objects.) Preserving and making accessible original textual artifacts is a principal function of rare book curators.
Although the percentage of these artifacts in Wesleyan's overall library holdings may be small, the open stacks of Olin and other campus libraries do include print editions of selected and edited primary materials, some with titles like Papers, Diary/ies, Letters, Correspondence, or Records.
The Microforms Center on Olin's lower level is full of riches not (yet) fully represented in or not easily recognizable from the online catalog. In addition to Early American Imprints to 1819, many early English and American (including Middletown) newspapers, and all American fiction to 1900, it houses smaller groups on topics as various as the Continental Congress, the 18th-century London printers Bowyer, foreign missions, black abolitionists, dime novels, the Russian Revolution, and the Manhattan Project. Finding aids for large groups are shelved to the right just inside the entrance and are worth browsing in.
Other major collections of primary sources at Wesleyan: