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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Locating Primary Sources of Music in Libraries and Archives

A guide for identifying and locating primary manuscript (and early edition) sources by using RISM and other tools.

Finding Music and Composer Archives

There are many sources for finding manuscript and archival music material, including composer's archives and papers (meant here in the sense of correspondence, sketches, and other unpublished materials). These include, but are not limited to:

  • National libraries and archives
  • Catalogs like NUCMC and WorldCat
  • Printed tools like Resources of American Music History by Krummel
  • Grove
  • Composer thematic catalogs, bio-bibliographies, and guides to research

See the other boxes on this page for links to some of these tools.

Archive and Collection Catalogs

National Libraries

Many libraries have begun digitizing their primary source materials. Once you know which library owns a specific manuscript or edition, check the library's website to see if a digital image is available.

The following sites give access to major research libraries: