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Primary Sources

Learn what are, and where to find PRIMARY SOURCES

How to Search the Library Catalog

Using the Library Catalog to Find Primary Sources

Now that you have consulted reference materials to gather names of people, places, and events, you should have the keywords needed to find primary texts using the Library Catalog.

  1. To access the Library Catalog, visit and scroll to find a large box with tabs along the top. Toggle from the "Discover" tab to "Library Catalog."
  2. A simple search can be conducted from this screen e.g., Biden AND speeches, Holocaust AND letters, Civil Rights AND interviews. Click "Advanced Search" for greater control of your search query. An example is provided below.
  3. Scroll the search results for relevant documents. Click a title to find the links to access the document or a brief summary.

Primary sources can also be found by browsing Databases. Review the next page of this guide for recommendations.


Use the Advanced Search under the Library Catalog tab.

The Library Catalog is the second tab in the main search area of the Library's homepage.


Type the name of the event or person you're researching in the first search term line. In this example, we have entered "Vietnam War."

In the line below it, you can try "primary sources" as a second search term with some success, or try entering a few types of primary source documents as keywords with the OR function between each word as shown below: letters OR diaries OR correspondence.

You can expand your results by toggling from "Library Catalog" to "Articles, Books & More" at the top of the search box. This increases the quantity of results but some will be less relevant than others.


Library Catalog Advanced Search screen

Here are some more keyword ideas:

  • personal narratives
  • correspondence
  • letters
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • quotations
  • periodicals [identifies newspapers, magazines or journals]
  • manuscripts
  • reports