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SSI2-194: Castles: Finding Primary Sources

Spring 2020: Primary Sources

Because we are working in an online learning environment, please select from the list of possible primary sources provided by Prof. Smith (available on Canvas).  The information provided below provides an overview of strategies for identifying and locating primary sources when both print and online sources are available.

Strategies for Identifying Primary Sources

  • Aim for a variety of materials that will provide multiple perspectives on your topic.  In practice, this means using a variety of search strategies and more than one repository or database.
  • Consult the notes and bibliographies of recently published, good historical monographs and relevant scholarly articles.  If much of the cited primary source material is located in a distant archive, you may need to rethink your approach to your research topic.
  • Use the author search function in Primo.  You can use "corporate authors" to find writings published by government entities, businesses, or groups.
  • Look for scholarly editions of primary sources, or for "documentary histories" that include a selection of primary sources accompanied by scholarly annotations.
  • Use Library of Congress Subject Headings--especially the subheadings most frequently associated with primary sources.

Primary Source Collections

Digital Text & Image Collections

Using Subject Headings in Primo to Locate Primary Sources

Books in Primo are assigned Library of Congress Subject Headings.  In many ways, subject headings are a form of tagging, in that they represent the content of the material and provide ways for you to efficiently locate more materials that are conceptually related. 

Library of Congress Subject Headings are also quite useful for discovering primary sources. The following subheadings usually are added to indicate that the material is a primary source: sources, personal narratives, correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, or notebooks.  Once you've discovered the subject heading for secondary sources, try adding one of the primary source subheadings to see what you find.  Here are some examples:

Secondary source subject heading: Crusades
Primary source subject heading:  Crusades -- Sources

Secondary source subject heading: Albigenses -- History
Primary source subject heading: Albigenses -- History -- Sources

Secondary source subject heading:  Children's Crusade (1212)
Primary source subject heading: Children's Crusade (1212) -- Sources

When you know the author of the texts you are seeking, simply do an author search in Primo.  If a name has alternate spellings, you may need to try out a couple of them to get to the right one.

Comnena, Anna

Bahāʼ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Rāfiʻ Ibn Shaddād 1145-1234 or 1235.