Primary Sources

Primary Sources: What They Are and How to Use Them

What Are Primary Resources (American Memory Learning Page)

Making Sense of Evidence (History Matters)

Using Primary Resources on the Web

Yale University Library: Primary Sources Research

Locating Original Primary Sources

Original resources often exist in one particular location -- often an archival collection in a library, museum, or other repository. Often it is necessary to consult biographical or other information sources to help in determining what repository might house items of interest.

Index to archival finding aids derived from major archival libraries and sources in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Historical Research in Europe: A Guide to Archives and Libraries
This joint project of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for European Studies and the General Library System is intended to assist researchers who are planning to use European libraries and archives.

Television News Archive (Vanderbilt University)
Searchable archive of abstracts of news broadcasts from 1968 to present (ABC, CBS, NBC), 1995 to present (CNN), selected content from PBS and FOX News. Video content from CNN viewable with RealOne media player. Descriptive summaries of the Vanderbilt University collection of network television news programs and other news-related programming collected in its archive since August 5, 1968. Loan copies of videotapes in 3/4 inch U-matic & 1/2 inch VHS. format are available for a fee from the Archive.

Oral History

Digitalomnium: oral history, archive and digital technology

Oral History in the Digital Age

Columbia Center for Oral History

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History (University of Kentucky Libraries)

International Oral History Association - National History Organizations

Locating Published Primary Sources

Many important primary sources are reprinted or republished in edited works, and can be located through the library catalog. It is helpful to be aware of some typical Library of Congress Subject headings that are often used with primary sources. In the Library Catalog, you can look for these words under the Genre facet:

Demo Part 1

Demo Part 2

Examples include:

Sources (This will appear as Primary Sources under Genre in the Library Catalog (see above demos)

For example:
United States -- History -- Sources
Brings up items such as:
For the record : a documentary history of America / David E. Shi and Holly A. Mayer.
Published: New York : W.W. Norton, 1999.


For example:
Presidents -- United States -- Correspondence
Brings up items such as:
Jefferson in love : love letters between Thomas Jefferson & Maria Cosway / edited by John P. Kaminski.
Madison, WI : Madison House, c1999.


For example:
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation -- Archives
Brings up items such as:
FBI file on Howard R. Hughes [microform].
[Wilmington, Del.] : Scholarly Resources, [2000?]