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Books as Primary Sources

The WSU Libraries has a strong book collection of primary sources.  These include books written during the time period of the topic (e.g., during the Russian Revolution, on the Oregon Trail), books written by event participants (e.g., a Civil War soldier), published collections of correspondence, memoirs, and other personal writings, and reprints of collections of primary source material. They may be in printed form, electronic, or in microfilm.


Major Digital Collections of Early Books

Digital Books

Using the WSU Libraries Catalog to Find Published Primary Sources

To find published primary sources use the following strategies and search terms in Search It, the library catalog.

  • Search by author or subject for books written by key participants and organizations, e.g., Martin Luther King or the NAACP
  • Do a keyword search and limit your search by publication date, e.g., books published between 1955 and 1965 on civil rights
  • Use subject headings that designate primary sources.  See a full list of Library of Congress primary Source subject headings.
  • Enter a keyword for your topic/event with a primary source term such as:
    • correspondence 
    • diaries
    • interviews 
    • letters
    • memoirs
    • personal narratives
    • records
    • sermons 
    • sources 
    • wills
  • Examples:  salem witch sources; slaves narratives; lewis clark correspondence
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