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Primary Sources for World History since 1500: Discovering Primary Sources in the Baylor Libraries

Tips, resources, and strategies for completing the second primary source assignment for Dr. Daniel Barish's section of HIS 1305

Likely Locations, Search Tools, and Effective Searching

Primary sources are most often published in book format or in collections of electronic documents. This provides clues as to where NOT to look for primary sources (scholarly journal articles). The sources on this page are organized on this principle.

To conduct an effective search (wasting less time) you want to do the following:

  1. Decide on an event or a country you want to find primary sources on
  2. Confirm the official name the information is listed under (we'll workshop this in class using subject headings)
  3. Search for books or electronic documents using the official name and the strategies below for each resource type
  4. After you have read the document, identify individuals who had a hand in its creation
  5. Also identify individuals or groups who were excluded from it's creation but effected by it
  6. Use the information from steps 2, 4, and 5 to search for factual information to confirm the source's authenticity and biases (we'll workshop this in class)
  7. Repeat step 6 to find a few articles written by scholars that discuss the impact of the event/individual of WWI on your topic

Book and E-document Sources

1. Books

We are going to use OneSearch's Advanced search to conduct an effective model search. The advanced search allows us to limit where certain words appear in the record so that we can be certain the results discuss the topic we want, not just mention it.

The video below walks you through the steps we went through in class, so if you need to modify your topic you can review the steps easily.


Video in creation - will be added later.


2. E-documents

You'll have a number of options for e-documents. These are usually parts of electronic collections we purchase to support research. They can also be found out on the web; however, you can be certain the ones in our electronic collections are accurate (rather than false or excerpted to emphasize a bias).

Choose History from the Databases by Subject  menu (and since History is often organized by geographic regions you may want to see if there is a "studies"section for your region).. A simple keyword search by country name may turn up resources, but if you don't find anything, search by subject:

Choose the subject from the pull-down list and also select the Resource Type as Electronic Texts and Documents:

Click on the name of the source to see more information on it's scope, search features, and time periods. Choose a suitable source and explore the features it offers (essays, chronologies, advanced search features, etc.) and then type in some selected keywords. Each resource will be somewhat different, so I'll come around and help you individually at this point.

Scholarly Article Sources

To better understand and interpret your primary source document you will want to read what a few other scholars have had to say about the document, the situation that caused its creation, and the people who crafted it. Use the resources described below to find the scholarly historical articles you'll need.

In some cases, there may be a very subject-specific resource to use, but a good first starting place is Historical Abstracts. This lists articles on all aspects and regions of history except Canada and the United States.

University Libraries

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Waco, TX 76798-7148

(254) 710-6702