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Primary Sources: Finding Primary Sources

Explanation of primary sources with lists of resources for locating them in Woodward Library

Using Library Databases & Online Resources

Woodward Library subscribes to a number of databases and links to many credible websites which contain the full-text of primary source documents.  

Use the tabs in this research guide to find a list of online resources containing primary sources in the following subjects:

Finding Items in Other Libraries

ArchiveGrid connects you with primary source material held in archives, special collections, and manuscript collections around the world.  It helps researchers contact archives to request information, arrange a visit, or order copies.

Using the Library Catalog to Find Primary Sources in the Collection

When using a library catalog to search for primary sources, you may have to wade through many pages of secondary source material to find primary documents for your project.  Here are some tips to help you locate these documents quickly.

Search By Author

When searching for primary documents on a person, try using the person's name as an Author search (LastName, FirstName).  When correspondence is cataloged, the writer of the letter (your topic) is generally listed as the author of the collection. (Example: Warren, Robert Penn).  This same strategy works for organizations, too.

Important Keywords

Manuscript collections or archives of organizational records often include some of the following keywords in their titles or content descriptions.  By including these words as keywords in a search, you have a better chance of finding collections of historical documents:

collection | papers |  archives | diaries | letters | account | narrative | personal | correspondence | autobiography

Note: Use truncation to pick up both the singular and plural form of these keywords.

Limiting Your Search

You may be able to limit your search to Archival material by using Advanced Search.  Look for a field labeled "material type"  and try selecting one of the following terms:

ARCHIVAL MATL  or  MANUSCRIPT

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Subject Guide

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Michael Hooper
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Library 117
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