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Primary vs Secondary
Is this Primary?! Is this Secondary?!
Look through these two tutorials to help you figure it out!
Primary Source keyword/type examples
Use these terms as keywords in your search to help you find primary sources related to your subject. Try to think about in what format/genre the information might have been recorded in.
- personal narratives
- oral history / oral histories / oral narratives
Searching using primary source types/genres
Another option is to search for your topic, then look at the refining options via "Genre," and then look for some primary source term, as mentioned above.
Hope College is now affilliated with the Center for Research Libraries. This gives us access to a great number of important historical resources, in print, microfilm and online. These can be ordered through ILL. Start looking for materials in their online catalog. Also, you can browse for newspapers by country and by city.
Hope Electronic Collections
At Hope Libraries, we subscribe to several full text databases of published primary sources. They are searchable by keyword, so you can do very precise searches on your topic in newspapers, magazines and journals. Because these databases are so large t is helpful to narrow by date range to the time period in which you are interested.
New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers) [1851-2018] This link opens in a new window
Subject: History, Journalism
Content/Description:Contains full-text articles from the New York Times newspaper.
Chicago Tribune (ProQuest) 1849-1998 This link opens in a new window
Content/Description:Provides full-text newspaper articles from the Chicago Tribune from 1849-1998.
Harper's Weekly (HarpWeek) This link opens in a new window
Content/Description: Provides illustrations, photographs, maps, and issues of Harper's Weekly publications, a prominent American 19th century newspaper.
JSTOR This link opens in a new window
Some of their journals and pamphlets go back to the late 19th century, so using a date limiter, you can sometimes find relevant historical sources.
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (scholar's edition) This link opens in a new window
Subject: History, Political Science, Women and Gender Studies
Content/Description: Contains full-text primary documents, archive notes, books, film and website reviews, and teaching tools with archives.
Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (H.W. Wilson) [EBSCOhost] This link opens in a new window
Subject: History, Journalism, Interdisciplinary
Content/Description:Articles with full-text links and video from publications spanning a wide range of topics and dates.
American Antiquarian Society(AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 1-5 (1693-1912) This link opens in a new window
Content/Description: A collection of primary sources from American magazines and journals on history and culture from 1693 to 1912. Its magazine and journal articles and digitized images cover advertising, health, social and religious issues, science, and slavery.
On the Web
There are many fantastic digitization projects that are going on right now that make primary source materials much more easily accessible to you. Here are a couple of tips for looking for these as well as some portals to get you started on your research.
- If your topic is geographically specific, do some browsing on the state library websites for in your area to see if they have any digitization projects from their collection.
- If you discover that a particular library is strong in your subject area, check their website as well.
- Browse the subject guides of major research libraries, they will often include helpful weblinks in subject specific guides.
- When searching on the internet, try including words like "digital collection", "digitized", or "primary sources" along with your more general subject
- If you are looking for a specific older published source, type in its specific title; it might come up in a digital collection or Google Books.
Sample web searches for Primary sources:
Chinese exclusion act primary sources
gilded age digital archive
Library of Congress - Digital Collections
These digitized collections, and some of them pertain to immigration and American expansion.
Digital Public Library of America
Growing searchable portal to digital archival content around the country.
Making of America - Cornell
This collection of 19th century primary sources is strong in periodicals.
Making of America - University of Michigan
This collection is particularly strong in 19th century books.
Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1949 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives.
The partners ensure the reliability and efficiency of the digital library by relying on community standards and best practices, developing policies and procedures to manage content and services at scale, and maintaining a modular, open infrastructure.
Harvard Curated Digital Collections
Curated views that provide specialized search options and unique content
Bracero History Archive
The Bracero History Archive collects and makes available the oral histories and artifacts pertaining to the Bracero program, a guest worker initiative that spanned the years 1942-1964. Millions of Mexican agricultural workers crossed the border under the program to work in more than half of the states in America.
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 by Harvard University
Documenting voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the start of the Great Depression.
Explore the Immigration History Research Center Archives from University of Minnesota
Digitized immigrant letters and other digitized archival material relating to immigration.