Skip to Main Content
Please note: Off-campus access to many library resources is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Hope Library Guides

.History (General): Primary Sources

This is the main portal to databases and other library sources for history research at Van Wylen Library, Hope College.

Articles and Primary Source Databases

Primary Sources in PRIMO

Primary sources include a variety of materials written or created during the time period of the topic you are researching.

Primary Sources Online: Finding, Evaluating, and Using from the American Library Association

Library collections include primary sources in a variety of formats. Most of those in the Hope College Libraries are in book form. In some cases, the content of the book has been transferred to microfiche or a special type of microfiche known as ultrafiche.

One method for finding books that may be considered primary sources is to search PRIMO using keywords that describe your topic in combination with the following terms:

  • sources;
  • personal narratives;
  • diaries;
  • correspondence;
  • interviews;
  • church records and registers;
  • sermons;
  • early works;
  • wills;
  • photographs.

Remember that you may need to think about your topic broadly to find primary sources using this method. After actually looking at the source you will know whether or not it effectively addresses your specific topic.

For additional assistance locating and using primary source materials, please consult the Van Wylen Library Reference Desk.

Primary Sources on the Web

There are many primary source collections freely available online. 

Try searching on national library websites of countries you are researching, or do a very broad search on your topic in combination with words/phrases like "digital archive" or "primary sources" or "digitized" or "digital collection."

For example: 

jane addams digital collection 

france national library digitized

Below are some very general examples:

Digital Public Library of America

Hathi Trust - "HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform."

Library of Congress Digital Collections

Harvard's Digital Collections

Yale Digital Collections

Disability History Museum Digital Collections

Research/Instruction Librarians