Primary sources were either created during the time period being studied or were created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs). They reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Examples of primary sources include historical newspapers, oral history interviews, posters, photographs, pamphlets, and more.
A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or phenomenon. It is generally at least one step removed from the event is often based on primary sources. Examples include: scholarly or popular books and articles, reference books, and textbooks.
See the Finding Historical Primary Sources Library Guide for a comprehensive guide to locating primary sources.
The Bancroft Library welcomes researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, from California, and from around the world. We are a non-circulating library and archives, so researchers must consult all materials in our reading room.
Bancroft Library researchers must be at least 18 years old, or have graduated from high school, or be accompanied by an adult.
Please check The Bancroft Library's website for unanticipated closures especially during fire season. The Bancroft Library's status may differ from other libraries on campus..Click here for Bancroft's open hours.
Reference and Research Queries
Bancroft staff are available to assist you with reference and basic research inquiries about our collections. You can reach us in these ways:
Please note: Email and the web form are the best ways to reach us if you are off campus.
If you are located out of the area and need a researcher to work on your behalf, please contact staff at the email address above and we can provide a list of independent researchers who are available for hire.
To request materials for classes and seminars, please contact our Information and Instruction Specialist to arrange materials for your visit. Do not submit your requests via Aeon.
Public Transit and Parking
If you are coming to visit The Bancroft Library, we recommend that you take public transportation as parking on campus is limited to those with permits and off-campus parking can be hard to find and expensive.
The easiest way to visit campus is to take a Richmond line BART train to the Downtown Berkeley station. The Bancroft Library is a half-mile walk uphill from the main entrance on Shattuck and Center streets. Please see the map below for detailed walking directions.
For driving directions and on-campus parking information, please consult UC Berkeley Visitor Services. There is metered and non-metered street parking around the campus. The City of Berkeley strictly enforces parking restrictions. UC Berkeley maintains a list of off-campus parking garages.
There are limited parking accommodations on campus for drivers displaying legal disabled parking permits. On-campus parking requires a UCB parking permit in addition to a state-issued disabled parking placard. Please consult the UCB Parking and Transportation website and the Campus Access Guide for further information.
Berkeley has many options for lodging. You can also find alternatives in Oakland, Emeryville, and San Francisco, which are all reachable by public transportation or car. We strongly advise that you make your lodging reservations prior to your visit.
There are many dining options, both on and off campus.
For additional information, please consult the Plan a Visit page on The Bancroft Library's website.
Guides to over 20,000 collections housed in 200 libraries, archives, historical societies, special collections and museums across California are searchable at the Online Archive of California (OAC). Collection guides, also known as finding aids, are descriptive guides to archival (primary source) collections. These collections may be physically located in archives or digitized on the web. The guides help users learn more about the scope of a collection so they know if it is likely to meet their research needs.
Digitized versions of photographs, documents, newspapers, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, and other cultural artifacts that are contributed by these California institutions to the OAC make up the content included in Calisphere.