This blog includes text and images drawn from historical sources that may contain material that is offensive or harmful. We strive to accurately represent the past while being sensitive to the needs and concerns of our audience. If you have any feedback to share on this topic, please either comment on a relevant post, or use our Ask Us form to contact us.

Demystifying Mudd: Research from Home

Mudd Library is closed right now for renovations, and many of our researchers are practicing social distancing. Though some projects will be on hold, the good news is that if you are at home reading this right now, you have a lot of options for remote research. Some resources are available to all, while others can be accessed by Princeton University’s scattered community with a Secure Remote Access (SRA) connection, also known as a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you have a Princeton NetID and would like to use these materials, you can follow the instructions on the OIT website to establish the connection on your own device.

Resources Available to All:

This Blog

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that our own blog can be a great resource for finding information and digitized materials. It’s worth a search to see what we’ve already curated for you. Think creatively! You may find digital image galleries like in this post about the Liberty Loan Fund’s advertising for women during World War I or videos like this campaign film about nuclear weapons to use as primary sources on topics completely distinct from our reasons for putting them up on the blog.

Drawing of Uncle Sam standing next to a banker opening a safety deposit box in front of a woman. The woman is handing a "Liberty Loan Bond" to Uncle Sam.
Liberty Loan Committee Records (MC089), Box 19, Folder 15.

Princeton University Library Finding Aids

You may find that what you need has already been digitized and attached to the finding aid, so it is always worth a look. You will need to navigate to the individual item to see the files, such as with these minutes of faculty meetings from the Department of Chemistry Records. If you find a broken link, please email us.

Papers of Princeton Database

If you’re interested in just about anything related to the history of the town of Princeton or Princeton University, this database is a great place to start. It includes town newspapers like Local Express, the Princeton Herald, and Town Topics; student publications like the Daily Princetonian and Nassau Literary Review; and other local periodicals like the Princeton University Weekly Bulletin and Princeton Recollector

Princeton University Library Catalog

You might think the main Princeton University Library Catalog can only tell you where a physical book is, but a lot of digital content is available there, too, like this video of a 1954 CBS News interview with H. Alexander Smith, Class of 1901.

HathiTrust Digital Library

This searchable database contains millions of digitized titles in the public domain from libraries around the world. You can find early issues of the Princeton Alumni Weekly or reference books like John Frelinghuysen Hageman’s History of Princeton and Its Institutions, but you need not focus on Princeton here. Want to know what slang words college students across the U.S. were using in the 1850s? Check out Benjamin Homer Hall’s A Collection of College Words and Customs.

Princeton University Archives Tumblr

Our Tumblr page is a frequently overlooked reference resource, but it’s not all just fun and games. You can use the search box to find content specific to your interests, or explore with the hashtags. You can find out what Princetonians have been eating for the past few centuries, read a student’s letter home, or get a sense of how coeducation shaped Princeton.

Class of 1883 dinner menu, June 7, 1883. Princeton University Class Records (AC130), Box 23.

Princeton University Digital Library

High resolution scans of significant portions of several of our collections can be found in the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL). Search or browse historical photos and postcards of the Princeton University campus, or peruse early 20th-century posters from the New York City subway system.

Elevated Express poster, ca. 1925. Ivy Ledbetter Lee Papers (MC085). Box 137.

Digital Princeton University Library

The materials from the PUDL are gradually migrating to a new system, the Digital Princeton University Library (DPUL). New materials are always being added, like this photo from a 2017 student protest and David L. Aaron’s notes on the first White House meeting about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

Special Collections Databases

We have several online databases you can use to do things like verify someone’s class year or the department where a faculty member worked.

Google Books

Though much of the content in Google Books that might be relevant to you is also in the HathiTrust Digital Library, it’s often worth searching both databases. You might find, for example, that more recent issues of the Princeton Alumni Weekly are available in Google Books but not from HathiTrust.


HistoryPin helps you search for local content through Google maps. Zeroing in on Princeton University will bring you to content we’ve put up, but also content from the Institute for Advanced Study, local residents, and other institutions.

“A Lesbian Was Here” sticker, 1991. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 201, Folder 14.

Mudd Library via Email

We’re a resource you can access remotely, too–just email if you want help finding something. Though we don’t have access to our collections, either, sometimes we may surprise you with what turns out to be available in a digital format.

For more on our remote reference services, please see our previous blog post on this topic.

Resources Available to Princetonians via VPN:


For recent dissertations and senior theses, as well as some senior theses from earlier decades, the Princeton community can search the Dataspace repository. Some materials may be listed as “walk-in access only.” Please email us for assistance with those items. Note that if an item is listed as under embargo, it is not accessible until after the date listed.


JSTOR is a rich resource for almost all researchers, whether they’re interested in the subjects our collections cover or not, but it’s worth mentioning a few of the specific resources there that we often recommend to our patrons: the full text of A Princeton Companion and five volumes of The Princetonians: A Biographical Dictionary:

Newspaper Databases

The Princeton community has access to a significant number of digitized newspapers. The ones most frequently relevant for our researchers are America’s Historical Newspapers and ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

American Civil Liberties Union Papers 1912-1990 Database

Though not all of the American Civil Liberties Union Records are digitized, a significant portion of them are, and this database is keyword searchable. Note that researchers not affiliated with Princeton University may still have access to this database if their institutions subscribe. Please see our LibGuide for a list of subscribing institutions.

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