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Hist480: Senior Thesis: Primary Sources

Who might be interested in your topic?

Think about:

  • Local libraries (public or academic)
  • Historical societies
  • Library of Congress

Visit their home pages. Have they digitized materials? If they haven't digitized, have they published Finding Aids (which give you a good sense of what materials are contained in their collections)?

More Primary Sources

Collected/Published Works

When searching a database of books, whether the catalog or Google Books or WorldCat:

  • Keywords to use in searches: diaries / journals / sources / personal narratives / correspondence / letters
  • Also, look for these words in subject headings, and follow the subject links.

Contemporary Publications

Pamphlets / Newsletters / Newspapers


  • Google Books makes all pre-1923 books available for download.

Oral Histories

Oral histories (usually collected through interviews) are an increasingly popular method to preserve the past. Examples are below:

Government Records/Documents

The U.S. government is one of the most prolific publishers in the world. Nearly every aspect of life is touched by government activity, and it is a publisher of all types of materials (statistics; reports; legislation; etc).

Subject Guide

Rebecca Seipp's picture
Rebecca Seipp
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MSIS, Information Science
The University of Texas at Austin
BA, History
Southwestern University