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Primary Sources for Historical Research

Descriptions and links to digitized primary sources, as well as print collections of newspapers, diaries, correspondence and other primary sources

Approaches to Finding Primary Sources

To discover primary sources generally, try these approaches:

  1. Scour the bibliographies and notes of relevant secondary sources such as articles, books, and dissertations on your topic, since they are necessarily drawing on relevant primary sources. We won't always have access to those primary sources, but we sometimes will, whether immediately or through interlibrary loan.
    For dissertations, you can use:

  1. Search in our catalog or in WorldCat,
    • include these as Subject terms:
      • Personal narratives,
      • Facsimiles,
      • Diaries
      • Correspondence
      • Sources.
    • Alternately, try including document? [in our catalog] or document* [in WorldCat] as a keyword for mentions of "documents" or "documentary" in the title or description.
    • Do you know of specific people involved in the events your studying who may have written works?
      Try searching in our catalog or in WorldCat for such a person's name in the Author field.
  2. Browse through the many different primary sources collections described on other pages of this guide to find relevant sources. For instance, there are a tremendous number of good sources within our

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