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Hamersly Library

FR 407: Femmes Remarquables: Finding Historical Information and Documents

Searching for Primary Sources

To search for primary sources online or in the library database, Primo, try using the keywords listed below combined with the name of your subject, such as George Sand correspondence. You can mix and match, but your search in the library database will be more successful if you remember to combine similar concepts together with "AND" / "OR."  Ex. George Sand AND (sources OR diaries OR correspondence)

If you want to extend your search beyond Primo (the Summit libraries), use the same search terms in WorldCat and order through Interlibrary Loan.

  • sources
  • interviews
  • diaries
  • autobiograph* (best to use truncation)
  • correspondence
  • personal narratives
  • pamphlets
  • speeches
  • documents
  • archives
  • maps

For literary works as primary sources, try these keywords and phrases (square brackets indicate that this is an example that you can modify with a parallel geographic area or adjective):

  • [French] [poetry] women authors
  • short stories [France] 
  • fiction
  • essays
  • drama
  • prose literature

Primary Sources

Primary sources are original documents or first hand accounts from a given historical period, as opposed to secondary sources, such as journal articles, which provide information about and analysis of events and primary sources. Tertiary sources, like encyclopedias and textbooks, summarize primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources can take many forms, including: newspaper articles from the time period being studied, diaries, letters, photographs, autobiographies, posters, advertisements, original manuscripts, speeches, poems, oral histories, interviews, laws, transcripts, congressional hearings, pamphlets, and more.

Below is a sampling of books and online resources for finding primary sources, however this list is far from exhaustive. To search for more primary resources use the tips and keywords in the box to the left.