Finding Historical Primary Sources

Find Primary Sources by Topic

Topic

Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by keywords or official subject headings.  To find official subject headings:

  • Search by keywords, display the long form of the record for an appropriate item, and then click on one of the subject headings that are listed
  • Ask at a library reference desk for assistance
  • Look for the five red volumes of the Library of Congress Subject Headings, located near most library reference desks

You may also pair an appropriate subject heading with additional subject terms that identify materials as primary sources. Some of these terms are:

  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • early works to 1800
  • interviews
  • pamphlets
  • periodicals
  • personal narratives
  • sources

Note: these subject terms will not retrieve all possible primary sources but they are a good way to start.

Examples:

  • vietnamese conflict 1961-1975 personal narratives
  • student movements japan history sources
  • france revolution correspondence

Search article databases by keywords, or official subject terms/descriptors.

Find Primary Sources by Author/Organization

Name of an individual

  • Search the the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) for this name by author (last name, first name)
  • Search the the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) for this name as a subject.

Name of an organization

  • Search the the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) for the name of the organization as author-organization
  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) for the name of the organization as a subject term

Finding Primary Sources by Title

Specific title

  • Title of a book, manuscript, diary, etc.: search OskiCat by title or MELVYL (advanced search) by title
  • Title of a journal/magazine/newpaper: search OskiCat by title (pull down the "Entire Collection" menu to "Journals, Magazines, Newspapers". In MELVYL (Advanced Search) search by title; in the left column of the search results page you will be able to limit to "Journal/Magazine/Newspaper"
  • Title of an article: search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by the name of the journal/ magazine/ newspaper in which the article appeared (as above)
  • If you do not know the name of the journal/magazine/newspaper in which the article appeared, search for the title, subject, or author of the article in an article databases. Find the complete citation (title of journal, date, volume, etc.); then search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) for the title of the journal
  • Some journals/magazines/newspapers are available online (scroll down to sections for articles).

Finding Primary Sources by Date

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) using any of the techniques listed above; limit by date of publication to find materials published during the time period you are writing about. You may be able to sort your search results by date (see Help screens of each library catalog for details.)
  • Search the article databases using any of the techniques listed above; limit by date of publication to find materials published during the time period you are writing about
Last Update: 28 Jan 14:51 | Tagged with: primary sources