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Reference Resources

What Are Primary Documents?

Find Primary Documents

In the Catalog:
Using the phrases "primary documents" or "primary sources" is not the best way to search for primary sources in the catalog. 

Instead, construct searches using a keyword or name and any of the following terms:

sources speeches
diaries addresses
letters autobiographies
oral history memoirs
personal narratives correspondence
interviews pictoral works
pamphlets treaties
photographs recordings
poetry short stories

Interlibrary Loan:
Use WorldCat to identify primary source materials to request through Interlibrary Loan.

Primary documents are also often found in the footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography of a good secondary source.  These will often lead you to the archives, special collections, and digitized collections where primary documents are located.

On the Internet:
To find primary documents on the Internet, use the word "archive" or the phrase "special collection" or "digital collection" along with your subject term in a search engine or consult the Online Repositories listed in the box below.

Online Repositories of Primary Documents


The library subscribes to historical newspaper databases for the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun:

Related Research Guides