Finding Primary Sources

Do you need to find primary sources for a paper you are writing? The library is here to help!

First thing first. What are primary sources? Speaking generally, primary sources are information sources from the time period in which one is writing about. This contrasts with secondary sources which are from after the time period in question. For example, a letter written by a banker during the stock market crash of 1929 is a primary source while a book written by a scholar last year on the 1929 crash would be a secondary source.

Go to the Primary Sources & Archives section of the library website. To navigate there on your own from the homepage, click on Online Library 24/7 then mouse over to the right to the Subjects heading and click on Primary Sources & Archives below.

The list on this page includes many databases containing primary source documents in various categories. Here are some databases of note:

Ancestry Library – US Census, military, land, court and probate records.

Atlantic Magazine Archive, The (1857-2014) – Want to know what the opinion of The Atlantic Magazine was on slavery during the US Civil War? You can find that and more with this database.

Fold3 Library Edition – A collection of US military records throughout all of American history. Includes stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served.

Life Magazine Archive (1936-2000) – Use this database to do research on how Life Magazine covered events in the 20th century as they happened, from the later Great Depression years to the 2000 election.

Mercury News Historical Archive, The (1886-1922) – For local Bay Area history from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

New York Times, The (Historic Issues) – Use this database to do research on how the New York Times covered events from 1851 to 2016.

Science Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1880-1996) – Known as Science Classics, this database provides access to key scientific articles as advancements were being made.

TIME Magazine Archive (1923-2000) Use this database to do research on how Time Magazine covered events in the 20th century as they happened, from the end of the Harding presidency to the 2000 election.

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