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HIST 3000W - History and Biography - Blackett: Home

This guide discusses finding primary sources for writing a biographical essay.

Public Services Archivist

Teresa Gray's picture
Teresa Gray
(615) 343-2187

Special Collections & University Archives
Subjects:Primary Sources


Jason Schultz's picture
Jason Schultz
Central Library, Rm 800FL
(615) 875-8311


Welcome to Special Collections!  We have developed this guide to help students of HIST 3000W find primary sources to write a biographical essay.

Writing a biographical essay requires both background research on your subject and the use of primary source documents.  This guide provides some guidelines for approaching biographical research and offers some annotated descriptions of collections available in Special Collections. 

For additional assistance with history databases and background research, take a look at these additional guides:

HIST 3000W: The History Workshop
History Resources: Start

Need help?  Call or e-mail me to set up a research consultation appointment.

Finding a Topic

Settling on a topic can be the hardest part of your essay assignment.  Here are some suggestions to help get you started:

1.  Make a list of your hobbies or interests.  Then check the Manuscripts tab or the Subject Guide for possible matches.

Love movies?  Check out the personal papers of Vanderbilt alumnus and film director, Delbert Mann.

Interested in Brazil?  Check out the Mary Helen Clark Papers for a glimpse at life in Brazil in 1932.

Interested in women's rights?  Check out Sue Kirtland Green, an associate of Margaret Sanger and founder of Tennessee's first birth control clinic.

2.  Browse the subjects and descriptions of available collections in the Manuscripts tab above.

3.  Still stuck?  Contact me to set up a consultation appointment.

Library Workshops

Student Research Productivity

Visit this page to find free, ongoing library workshops on improving research productivity and managing long-term research projects.  These workshops will be held on the 4th floor of Central Library, Classroom 418a.

Tools and Techniques in Digital Scholarship (Scholarly Communication workshops)

Workshops on a variety of digital scholarship applications are offered each Friday in Central Library, Classroom 418a.  These workshops are free to attend and offer hands-on use of the sources under discussion.