Finding Historical Primary Sources

Types of Primary Sources

Published and Manuscript:  books, memoirs, letters, interviews, autobiographies, diaries, records of organizations, manuscript collections, speeches, fiction

Articles - magazines, newspapers; newspapers by title, by city, by subject

Government Information etc. - records of government organizations, Congressional information, US Census, Public Opinion polls, Supreme Court cases

Images and Sound - photographs, images, audio recordings, videos and DVDs, cartoons, advertisements

Primary Sources - Published and Manuscript

Books from the time period you're writing about

Memoirs, letters, interviews, autobiographies, diaries

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) for the name of an individual as an author (last name, first name)
  • If you do not have the name of an individual, search the OskiCat or MELVYL by  topic and add the appropriate subject terms to the subject heading:

    -Correspondence
    -Diaries
    -Interviews
    -Personal narratives

Example:  subject keywords:  japanese Americans interviews

Ask for assistance in locating bibliographies and other reference tools that may help you find other titles.

Records of or materials published by an organization

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about)  by the name of the organization as author

Manuscript collections

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by names of author (last name, first name) or organization as author; limit to format: manuscripts

Speeches

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by subject keywords: speeches indexes to find reference books that list individual speeches

Fiction from a particular time period

Consult one of the following printed indexes:

to find titles of creative works; then check the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) to see if we own the title(s) you want.

Primary Sources - Articles

Magazine or journal article from the time period you're writing about:

  • Use an article database to locate the citations (title, author, name of the magazine/newspaper, date, volume, page numbers) of relevant articles.
    • if available, use UC e-links to find the library location of the magazine/newspaper title
    • or search to find the library location of the magazine/newspaper title

Newspaper article from the time period you're writing about - for a specific event or date

  • Use a newspaper database to locate the citations (title, author, name of the newspaper, date, volume, page numbers) of relevant articles

Specific newspaper or magazine title (example: Chicago Defender)

Newspaper titles by city or by subject

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) using subject headings and add the additional subject term: -newspapers (ex: subject keywords african americans los angeles newspapers)
  • Search the California Newspaper Project database (click on "Search the CNP") for newspaper titles located at libraries throughout California. You may search by city, years, title, etc.

Primary Sources - Government Information, Census and Polls

Records of government agencies

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by the name of the government agency as organizational author

Congressional information

Lexis-Nexis Congressional includes:

  • Bills and Laws 1789-present
  • Congressional hearings: 1824-present
  • Committee Prints: 1817 - present
  • CRS Reports (good places to start): 1916 - present
  • Hearings 1817-present
  • House & Senate reports and documents: 1817 - present
  • Legislative Histories 1969-present
  • Serial Set 1789-present, including maps
  • Congressional Record and its predecessors: 1789-2001

United States Census

Public Opinion Polls

Supreme Court cases

Opinions:

Briefs:

Making of Modern Law: US Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978

A fully searchable collection of briefs and other documents related to cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. It contains over 150,000 cases and 350,000 documents. Search results are linked to the actual full-text PDF documents.
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic (Supreme Court briefs 1936- onwards)
    In the "Look up a Legal case" section, click on  Landmark Cases
    on the left, click on Supreme Court Briefs

 Oral arguments:

    • Oyez Project:  Audio recordings of oral arguments before Supreme Court 1968 - 2010
      • selective before 1968 and after 2010
      • Briefs and opinions also selectively available.
    • Supreme Court of the US official web site:  transcripts of oral arguments 2000 - present
      • audio of oral arguments 2010 - present

Primary Sources - Images and Sound

Photographs and Images

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) using the additional subject terms- photographs or - pictorial works

(example: world war 1939-1945 pictorial works)

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by names of persons or topics as (limit by format - in OskiCat "pictures/graphics", in MELVYL, "visual materials "
  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by names of photographers as personal authors
  • Search Calisphere for images from archives from all over California

Audio recordings

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by subject, title, or author and limit to format: sound recordings

Video recordings/DVDs- nonfiction

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by subject, title, or author and limit in OskiCat to format: film/videos/slides and in MELVYL to form: videocassette or DVD/video

Movies from a particular time period

Consult one of the following:

Cartoons

  • To find books that discuss and reproduce cartoons, search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by subject and add the subject terms caricatures and cartoons:
    • example: Spanish-American war caricatures and cartoons

Advertisements

  • For television commercials, see the Media Resources Center web site
Last Update: 28 Jan 14:51 | Tagged with: primary sources