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Finding & Using Primary Sources

Locating primary sources and documents in the library catalog

Primary source materials are part of the Hutchins Library collection of books, journals, magazines and databases. However, primary sources are seldom labeled as primary sources – this type of material must be combed out of the collection at large. This task is not always easy and can be time-consuming.

The Hutchins Libary catalog can facilitate the discovery of certain kinds of primary source material. Simply incorporate terms like as “papers,” “interviews,” “sources,” “letters” or “personal narratives” into the catalog keyword and subject searches. An author search can sometimes produce primary sources as well (i.e. books written by the historical figure in question.) However, using the library catalog to effectively locate primary source materials may require a librarian’s assistance and expertise.

Sample Possible KEYWORD searches

  • Slavery personal narratives
  • Vietnam interviews
  • Jefferson letters

Sample Possible SUBJECT HEADING searches

  • Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--Personal narratives
  • Coal miners--Virginia, Southwest--Interviews.
  • Speeches, addresses, etc., American