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CSB / SJU Libraries

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Research Guides

Primary Sources

Finding Primary Sources in Our Catalog

Use the Libraries' WorldCat catalog (the main search box on the library homepage) to find primary sources. Just type in your usual search terms and add one of the terms listed below!

  • Sources
  • Personal narratives
  • Diaries
  • Correspondence
  • Interviews
  • Autobiography
  • Memoirs
  • Description and travel
  • Pictorial works

Finding Primary Sources Online

Mary archives, museums, and government offices have digitized parts of their primary source collections. Type your usual terms into a search engine and add one of the options listed below.

  • "primary sources"
  • "oral history"
  • "digital library"

Primary Sources at CSB/SJU

What Are Primary Sources?

Note: Instructors, departments, and disciplines define 'primary sources' differently. Contact your instructor if you are unclear about what counts as a primary source for an assignment! This guide only serves as one possible starting place.

With that being said, primary sources are generally understood to...

...provide first-hand testimony, direct evidence, or original findings concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented.

Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories, and scientific research articles recorded later.

Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format. --based on Yale's Primary Sources LibGuide Module

Databases with Primary Source Material

Historical Newspaper Collections

Streaming Video Links


Digital Libraries and Digital Archives

A list of several digital library projects is listed on Wikipedia. Below are a few major portals that help you access digitized primary sources.