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HIST 499

This guide was updated in August 2020 for senior researchers in history.

Finding Primary Sources in OneSearch

Locating primary sources for historical research is an iterative process. It often involves consulting the secondary sources, tracking down primary sources used by others, going back to the literature as new names, events, and concepts emerge, then back to the tracking down potential primary documents.

For historians, some of the most fruitful searching happens when looking for books in OneSearch When searching,  keep the following in mind.

Search for authors - Individuals, organizations, and government branches/agencies can all be authors, and can be searched in library catalogs. Results might include autobiographies, published correspondence and diaries, interviews, government reports, hearings, and studies, periodicals and bulletins, and archival collections.

Know your subject headings - It helps to get to know how subject headings are used to describe your topic. For example, the subject headings Cuban Americans and Cubans--United States have slightly different meanings, and both could be useful for studying Americans of Cuban origin or Cubans in the United States, respectively.

Use publication date filter strategically - You can limit results by date of publication, such as the period you are studying. Keep in mind that some primary sources may be collated and reprinted in a later book that would not appear if this filter is used. Copies of primary sources may also be included in some secondary sources- esp. in scholarly books.

Primary Source Databases

The library subscribes to many primary source databases. Here are a few examples:

Primary Source Websites

This list is only a sample of the primary source websites online. Many universities, archives, & museums digitize their primary source materials and put them online for anyone to access. Consider Googling your topic + digital archives, collections, or library to look for websites that may be relevant to your project.

News Databases

Historical News

Recent News (roughly 1990s-today)

Find a specific newspaper, magazine, or journal:

Have a question? Ask a librarian! Email libref@stetson.edu. Call or text 386-747-9028.