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HNRS 3202: Modernism in Art and Literature

What are primary and secondary sources?

Some Primary Source Databases

Primary Documents in the Library Catalog

Use the Library's Catalog Advanced Search to find primary sources on your topic in the WMU collection.

Since the terms "primary documents" or "primary sources" are not Library of Congress (LC) subject headings, these are not the best keywords to use.  Instead, use some or all of the following keywords that will help you identify primary documents that we have in our collection. The generic LC subject heading for primary documents is  sources.  Here are some of the most helpful keywords to use:

  • sources
  • diaries
  • letters
  • oral history
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • speeches

The trick is to combine one or more of these keywords with whatever topic you are researching.  For example:

  • "cold war"  (HINT:  using the quotation marks will pick up the entire phrase)
  • "oral history"

or the following search:

  • slave*        (HINT: using the asterisk as a wild card will pick up all variations of the root word, e.g., slave, slaves, slavery, etc.)
  • "personal narratives" OR diaries OR letters OR sources

While not every single item that comes up is guaranteed to be a primary document, at least some of them should be.