Skip to Main Content

Historical Research: Books

Locating Primary Sources on ARTHUR

There are certain words that appear in the subject headings of items in ARTHUR that constitute primary sources. The most important of them is sources, but there are others.

In the simple keyword search box, you can put such words after SU:in order to specify the SUBJECT field.

ex.: crusades and SU:sources

In the advanced keyword search, you can put your search term(s) in the top box, and in the second box, put the down menu to Subject: word(s) you're using to locate primary sources in the next box, and change the drop- -down menu to Subject:

Keywords that will help you find primary sources:

  • sources
  • correspondence
  • sermons
  • diaries
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • quotations
  • collections
  • speeches
  • manuscripts
  • archives

Depending on the period being studied, it can also be helpful to limit your search by publication date.

More keywords identifying primary sources are in the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

To find the papers of a historically prominent individual, use the Advanced ARTHUR Search. Use the first line to specify the author (surname first, e.g., Jefferson, Thomas) and the second line to specify papers in the title. You can also use the Advanced search to combine any of the above primary source oriented keywords with a particular author.

Lincoln University

Searching For Books

The following are available resources that will assist you in locating books for your research:

Use the Page Library Catalog to find LU owned books by author, title, subject, etc. 

Use the MOBIUS catalog to find books in other Missouri libraries. These books generally take 2-3 to arrive at Page Library.

Use Worldcat to find books beyond what's available in Missouri and beyond. These books generally take a week to arrive at Page Library, but can take longer.

Use Google's Advanced Book Search to search within a huge corpus of books.  When you find books, look for the Find In a Library link to locate a copy.

What's a Primary Source?

What is a Primary Source? - Youtube video

A primary source is any record contemporary to an event or time period.  Primary sources may be written, oral, visual or physical.  Some of these sources were produced with the intent of being preserved for the future.  Such intentional sources include government documents, church records, autobiographies or memoirs.  On the other hand, many primary sources were produced without any intent of future use.  Such unintentional sources may include private correspondence not originally meant for posterity but which later are deposited in archives and libraries.  Physical evidence such as buildings, clothing, tools, and landscapes may also be labeled as unintentional sources.

--Galgano, Michael J., J. Christopher Arndt, and Raymond M. Hyser. Doing History: Research and Writing in the Digital Age. Cengage Learning, 2007, p. 57.

Primary Sources Online - over 100 links to primary sources

The American Library Association site- this site has tips on mechanics as well

National History Day- US primary sources

EuroDocs - Primary and Secondary sources from every European Country dating back to BCE

How Do I Find Secondary Sources?

To identify secondary literature, you can do subject searches in the online catalog to find books or subject searches in article databases to find articles; article databases may list books as well a articles from journals. You can also consult standard published bibliographies (e.g. the American Historical Association Guide to Historical Literature) and specialized bibliographies (e.g. The Harvard Guide to African-American History).

You can also look for review essays, in which a historian who specializes in the subject analyzes recent scholarship; you may find more lengthy historiographical treatments of the topic published as chapters in collections, journal articles, or even monographs; you can read about the topic in a subject encyclopedia and look at the bibliography at the end of the entry; and you can find a major work of scholarship on the topic and follow up on the sources used by the author (footnote tracking).

Most of the time you will find the secondary literature you need by using the online catalog, the appopriate article databases, subject encyclopedias or bibliographies, and by consulting your instructor.

What Are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources, as opposed to primary sources, offer an analysis or a restatement of primary sources. They often attempt to describe or explain primary sources. Some secondary sources not only analyze primary sources, but use them to argue a contention or to persuade the reader to hold a certain opinion.

Examples of secondary sources include dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and books and articles that interpret, analyze, or review research works.



The Soldiers Memorial