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Library DIY

Locating Primary Sources

Locate Primary Sources via Thrift Catalog

The Thrift Library catalog includes primary sources that are available in print and online. If you are looking for a specific item, search by title or author. 

Use Advanced Search to limit by date or by format (e.g., images, audio visual, scores).

If you are looking for primary sources on a certain topic, do an Advanced Search. Here you can limit by format (e.g., images, audio, video, scores), publication year, author, or subject. (Subjects can be especially helpful for narrowing a search by topic or by document type (e.g., correspondence, autobiography, letters).

Below are some recommended catalog search terms for locating primary sources. 

  • Any kind of primary source: Sources or documents (examples: medieval sources, civil war documents, papal sources)
  • Personal accounts, autobiographies, or memoirs: Personal narratives or Autobiography or memoir  (examples: Pearl Harbor personal narratives, battle of the bulge memoir, autobiography world war II)
  • Letters: Correspondence or letters (examples: Civil War correspondence, French Revolution letters)
  • Diaries: Diary (examples: Civil War diary, woman diary France)
  • Oral history: Interview or oral history or speeches (examples: Cold War interview, Japanese internment oral history, Malcolm X speeches)
  • Pamphlet: Pamphlet (examples: pamphlet chastity, rights of women pamphlet)
  • Photographs or artwork: Pictorial works (examples: Chicago pictorial works, World's Fair pictorial works)

Try these words in a general keyword search, or to narrow your results limit the search to "subject."

Locate Primary Sources via Thrift Library's Databses

Many of the library's databases include primary sources. Look for each database's Advanced Search. In most databases you can locate primary sources by limiting your search by format type (e.g., photographs, images) or by date.

Below are several free online databases with many primary sources:

Locate Primary Sources via Government Websites

Government documents that serve as artifacts of an historical event or time are primary sources. Below are several key resources for government information.

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