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Primary sources for history

Primary sources across time periods and countries

Finding primary sources in the Library

Option 1: Library Search

The University Library provides access to many primary sources, both in print and electronically. You can find these sources by using Library Search. Use keywords related to your topic and add the word sources into your search. You can also limit your search to collection type, enabling you to locate primary source material held for viewing in our Special Collections reading room.


You can use keywords in combination with the terms below to find relevant sources

Correspondence Diaries                         Documents            
Early works to 1800 Letters Interviews
Photographs Speeches Narratives
Pictorial works Memoirs Oral history
Description and travel Papers Journal

Searching for the papers of an individual, do an Author search, e.g. Darwin, Charles

To search for the records of an organisation or government body, do an Author search, e.g. British Library

To find works published in a particular time and place, try limiting your search by material type, publication date, language.


Option 2: Search Primary Source Databases

The University Library has access to a range of primary sources through several databases. You can locate these databases through Database Search.