Books with Primary Source Material

Primary sources may be reprinted in book form. Some examples include:

The Correspondence of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1162-1170
Dorothea Lange: American Photographs
The Papers of Henry Laurens
Waiting on the Bounty: The Dust Bowl Diary of Mary Knackstedt Dyck
Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves

Author Search

If you know the name of an individual or an organization search it as the author in the library catalog. Type in a personal name in inverted order (last name first followed by first name). Names of organizations are entered in the direct order of the name.

Edison Thomas
finds his published diary, letters, and film footage.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
finds files, reports, minutes, and periodicals.

Keyword Search

These terms can be assigned as subdivisions to subject headings:

anecdotes documentary films personal narratives
archives documentary photography pictorial works
biography early works to 1800 portraits
caricatures and cartoons interviews public opinion
case studies manuscripts speeches
comic books, strips notebooks songs and music
correspondence  pamphlets sources
description and travel periodicals statistics

Examples of keyword searches
(submarine or navy or naval) and (diaries or narratives or sources) and civil war
nurses and (correspondence or diaries or sources)

Many of the subdivision terms are assigned to subject headings for classes of persons or broad historical topics. Personal narratives are assigned to names of events and wars. Consider how the following books have been cataloged.

Comfort Women Speak: Testimony by Sex Slaves of the Japanese Military

Subject terms

Comfort women--Korea. 
Comfort women--Asia. 
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, Korean.  

Voices of the Buffalo Soldier: Records, Reports, and Recollections of Military Life and Service in the West

Subject terms

United States. Army--African American troops--History--19th century--Sources. 
United States. Army--Biography. 
African Americans--West (U.S.)--History--19th century-- Sources. 
African American soldiers--West (U.S.)--History--19th century--Sources. African American soldiers--West (U.S.)--Biography. 
African Americans--West (U.S.)--Biography. 
Frontier and pioneer life--West (U.S.)--Sources. 
Indians of North America--Wars--1866-1895--Sources. 
West (U.S.)--History--1860-1890--Sources. 
West (U.S.)--Race relations--Sources.

Subject searches on Types of Primary Sources

These terms are authorized subject headings for some formats of primary sources. The books may be about the type of primary source and/or include primary source materials.

Advertising (to find advertisements) Oral history
Autobiographies Sermons
Autobiography Slave writings *
Letters Speeches
American letters Wills

* Consult the Library of Congress Subject Headings for references to Writings by other groups of people (examples: prisoners writings, mentally ill writings of the).

Also look for bibliographies of a particular type or format of primary source with a keywordsearch

women and diaries and bibliography
diaries and bibliography

If you find too many books that include a bibliography rather than books that are bibliographies, use an advanced keyword search and search bibliography only in the subject field.

Consult a Bibliography or Guide

Have you tried all those strategies and still can’t find what you need? Take a step back and search for guides or bibliographies that could identify primary source materials. From the catalog record alone, you might not be able to tell if the guide or bibliography includes primary source material. You’ll need to look at the actual guide or bibliography.

Some examples include:
Harvard Guide to American History Reference Z1236 .F77 1974
The Female Experience in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century America: A Guide to the History of American Women Reference Z7961 .C64 1982
A Guide to the Manuscript Collection of the South Caroliniana LibraryReference and Mezzanine Z6621 .S697 also at South Caroliniana 016.091 So8g

Examples of keyword searches (be sure the catalog looks for the word bibliography in the subject by using an advanced keyword search)

etiquette and bibliography
working class and bibliography
travel and bibliography
children's literature and bibliography
women physicians and bibliography

Books from an Era

Perhaps your primary source material will be books published on a subject within a certain time period. You can limit your search by date of publication.

There are two ways to do this in the library catalog.

▪  Do a subject, author, call number or title search.  Once you have search results you can click on the Limit/Sort Search button and you will be able to enter a range of years.

▪  Select Advanced Keyword as your search and enter the range of years as part of your initial search.

The system does NOT include the years you enter.  For example, if you want to find materials published (or later reprints) from the 1870s you need to enter:

year of publication

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