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Primary Sources: Home

This guide aims to help you identify common types of primary sources in the University Libraries’ collections and those that are freely available on the Internet. It doesn't cover finding source material in other museums, libraries or other collections

Searching Strategies

Specific to Broad

Say you are interested in reading accounts from men who served on U-boats. You would want to search for books with primary source materials about:

   German submarines

   Sailors,    Naval

   World War I

   World War II

Try a variety of terms.  Look to see how the catalog or database lists the subject.

Related, Relevant Terms
Don't expect that one search will bring up everything that is relevant. Suppose you were interested in the history of birth control. All of these subjects might be of interest:

birth control


human reproductive technology


Do you know names of individuals, organizations, or other bodies involved in the issue?  Use the names as search terms.

More Tips

There's a really nice description of primary sources and ways to find them in The Information-Literate Historian 

Thomas Cooper Library, Reference Dept.  D16.2 P71 2006                       (pages 92-135)

Primary Source Material Collections in University Libraries

Digital Collections

Libraries and museums may have digitized primary source materials.  Great ways to identify virtual collections include:

Subject Guide

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Reference Desk Thomas Cooper Library
Thomas Cooper Library