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Finding Primary Sources: Books and Texts

Assistance with locating primary source material within and outside the WSU Libraries.

Books as primary sources

  • Books can be both primary and secondary sources.  Published as collections of letters (Letters of Michelangelo), personal narratives (Narrative of a journey to the shores of the polar sea, in the years 1819, 20, 21, and 22), sources (The Arab-Israeli conflict; documents & comments), or as autobiographies (Autobiographical memoir of Joseph Jewell, 1763-1846), books as primary sources can be found in Search It.  Use primary source words for your search along with topic or keyword.  Examples would be renaissance italy sourceswashington state memoirs; plague letters.
  • If you search by keyword or subject and do not use primary source terms, a mix of primary and secondary source books may be in the results list.  Look carefully at the subject headings and description or summary; if you need help ask a reference librarian.

The boxes below offer digitized books in databases and online collections.

Early English Books Online (EEBO)

EEBO - Early English Books online - logo


Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains over 22 million digital images of virtually every work printed in the English language as well as works printed in Great Britain and its dependencies from 1473-1700 in any language. Works are drawn from these exhaustive bibliographies and collections of the period: Short-Title Catalogue I (Pollard & Redgrave, 1475 - 1640), Short-Title Catalogue II (Wing, 1641 - 1700),  Thomason Tracts, a compendium of broadsides on the English Civil War printed between 1640 and 1661, and Early English Books Tract Supplements.

Digitized directly from the UMI Early English Books microform, Early English Books Online (EEBO) presents over 125,000 literary and historical classics as they appeared in their original format. Users can see the first printed edition of the Canterbury Tales or view Galileo’s telescopic discoveries.

Access      Early English Books Online (EEBO) (WSU only) may also be accessed through the WSU Libraries catalog Search It  (do a KEYWORD search for EEBO) or through the Find Journal Articles database list. 

Searching     Basic: The basic EEBO search interface allows a variety of queries, including: Author Keyword(s), Title Keyword(s), Subject Keyword(s), Keyword(s), Location of Publication, and Bibliographic Number.   You may limit your search by publication date and sort results by alphabetically by author or title or sort results in chronological or reverse chronological order.  The "Select from a list" link next to the search box is especially helpful, allowing one to look at varied terms, subjects, or authors and determine the number of occurrences in the database.

Advanced: Advanced searching through the EEBO interface is a powerful tool.  In addition to the basic search options, you may limit your search by illustration type, language, and country of origin.  There are more advanced search options in EEBO.

Digital book collections

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