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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
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:
- personal narratives;
- church records and registers;
- early works;
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.
Searching for 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."
jane addams digital collection
france national library digitized
- 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" 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.
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.
Harper's Weekly (HarpWeek)
Content/Description: Provides illustrations, photographs, maps, and issues of Harper's Weekly publications, a prominent American 19th century newspaper.
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.
Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (H.W. Wilson) [EBSCOhost]
This is not a full text database, but it indexes more popular periodicals back to 1890 (you can access them from our collection or by ILL)
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (scholar's edition)
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.
Google News Archive Search
Search engine for historical newspapers from Google's News Archive Partner Program and other online archival collections. Note: not all material will be freely available.
Digital Public Library of America
Growing searchable portal to digital archival content around the country.
Links connect to European primary historical documents that are transcribed, reproduced in facsimile, or translated.
In addition you will find video or sound files, maps, photographs or other imagery, databases, and other documentation.
Explore the untold stories and official histories of World War I in 378,432 items from across Europe
League of Nations Statistical and Disarmament Documents
Northwestern University Library's digital collection "League of Nations Statistical and Disarmament Documents" contains the full text of 260 League of Nations documents. The League existed from 1919 to 1946. Although Russia and the United States refused to join, its members included countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America. The documents in this digitized collection focus on three areas: the founding of the League, international statistics published by the League, and the League's work toward international disarmament. To promote peace and security, the League reduced national armaments and prevented the manufacture of implements of war. Most of the publications in this digital collection concern disarmament.
Library of Congress - Digital Collections
These digitized collections, and some of them pertain to immigration and American expansion.
Library of Congress- WWI Newspaper Clippings
This vast online collection of World War I era newspaper clippings is from a single unique source: the 400-volume, 80,000-page set, World War History: Daily Records and Comments as Appeared in American and Foreign Newspapers, 1914-1926.
Library of Congress Research Guides
Research guides to the Library's general collections of books and periodicals, as well as general subject guides prepared by Library of Congress reference librarians, are listed below.
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.
World War I Document Archive
The World War I Document Archive has resided on the server of the Brigham Young University Library since February 1996.
Large digitization project. Can be searched like a catalog. Not everything full view, though.
Example link: on periodicals during WWI:
In Their Own Words: Native Americans in World War I
We invite you to read stories and commentary written by North American Indians who served in the military during the First World War, and look at photos of these and other soldiers who returned to the US after the war.
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.
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.