1A: Types of Primary Sources
Primary sources are those created at the time of an historical event or era.
To learn more about primary sources, see The Historian's Sources.
1B: Find Primary Sources Using the Library Catalog
To find primary sources, search in the library catalog
- by author - find anything written by a historical figure
- by subject - find books written about a person, a historical event or time period, which often contain primary materials
Dates of publication and words in the subject heading and contents notes offer clues to primary sources. Some key words to look for are:
- personal narratives
Tip: If you don't know the right subject terms to use, try a Keyword search first. As the illustration from the Trexler catalog above shows, records for useful books will contain subject heading links that can then be used in a subject search.
1C: Find Primary Sources on the Web
To find primary source materials on the Web:
- Browse a virtual library. A virtual library is an organized collection of information sources, including digital documents. It is not a physical place, like your local public library, but exists only in computer space.
For example: American Memory -This is a large, ongoing project by the Library of Congress to create digital copies of collections important for the study of American history and culture. It includes sound files and movies, photographs, manuscripts, documents and more.
Some other virtual libraries are:
Use a Web directory.
A directory is a collection of links to relevant sources that are selected by an editor.
Here are some useful directories:
Search Web indexes such as Google, AltaVista, InfoSeek, etc.
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