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History

Essential resources for historical research

OneSearch

Primary Source Search Strategies

To quickly locate a particular type of primary source in most online catalogues use the following terms as SUBJECT rather than KEYWORD terms:

  • Diaries
  • Correspondence
  • Archives
  • Sources

For example, to find primary sources on women in China go to the OneSearch Advanced Search page, choose "Library Catalog" at the top and then enter your keywords ("women" and "China" and "sources" - making sure to change the ANY FIELD to SUBJECT for the line "sources": 

Screenshot of Onesearch advanced search highlighting the previous text describing how to search


More tips:

Subject entries for countries and regions are usually subdivided by century.  If you are looking for what is available to document general social or intellectual trends in a period search for the country's formal name (Great Britain, not "England") followed by the century designation: Great Britain 15th century.  Major events in any century will often have a subheading of their own: Great Britain World War 1914 - 1918.

You can use the subheading Sources with these time period designations as well: Hundred Years War 1339 1453 Sources


When searching in WorldCat your result list will have a set of tabs at the top, two may be of interest for primary sources:

  • Archival - used for collections of unedited primary sources for individuals, professional societies, or corporations
  • Internet - may lead to freely accessible digital collections, such as The Diaries of John Quincy Adams a Digital Collection located on the Massachusetts Historical Society web site

University Libraries

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