Chat Now

Related Topics

Answered By: Rena McGrogan
Last Updated: Jul 27, 2016     Views: 95

Here are some tips on finding primary sources for History:

 A primary source is the source closest to the original event, research or experience (definition taken from the Write Site,, University of Sydney).

  • Find a good, scholarly secondary source on the topic in the catalogue. Any good author will have consulted the primary sources on that subject and will list them in the footnotes and bibliography. Check these references in the catalogue to see if they are held in the Library.
  • Use a good, scholarly reference book. These have articles providing a broad overview of a topic, which will refer to the major primary and secondary sources.
  • Depending on the subject matter, there may have something in our full text collections: EEBO, ECCO, Defining Gender, Empire Online, Digital Evans, Making of Modern Law. These are all listed on the eResources section of this guide.
  • Include the word “sources” in a catalogue keyword search. Cataloguers add the word "sources" to the subject heading when they identify a work as a primary sources. The results will include “sources” in the title and in the subject headings, eg Witchcraft -- History -- Sources. U
  • Use the Advanced search mode in the catalogue to search by a date range. This will identify some works published during that time period.
  • The Rare Book Library has some material. Do a keyword search in the Special Collections Database to find relevant material.
  • Browse the shelves at the relevant call number, especially in Fisher Research and Fisher Audivisual. Be aware that a lot of material is in Storage and can only be located and requested via the online catalogue.
  • Contact your Faculty Liaison Librarian if you need further assistance