A primary source is a record of events that are described or recorded by someone who either participated in or witnessed the events firsthand.
The best way to find primary sources in the library catalog is by using Library of Congress Subject Headings, which often include the following words:
However these subject headings are not intuitive, therefore it is best that you do a Keyword search for your topic and one of the words above. Examples:
Once you find a title of interest, open the record and link to similar sources by clicking on the appropriate subject heading.
There are a few strategies you can use to locate primary source materials.
1. Search the library catalog
You can search the library catalog for your topic and include keywords such as diary, personal narrative, pamphlet, letters, maps, etc. that corresponds to the type of primary source material you think would be relevant.
2. Look through our primary source databases
We have specific databases that deal with primary source materials. You can browse our list of databases and read the descriptions to see if there are any relevant material.
3. You can check the references of secondary sources to see what primary sources they are citing.
Secondary sources often will cite primary sources to help build their argument. Take a look at what primary sources the author is using and search for the source in the library or contact a librarian if you need further help locating the source.
4. Check WorldCat
WorldCat allows you to search other libraries for primary sources. Using the Advanced Search, you can narrow your focus down to "Archival Material" under Format.