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“Brandeis

UWS 8b: The American Dream

Locating Primary Sources

Locating primary source materials can be tricky because there are many different places to look. Brandeis subscribes to over 100 primary source databases, and there are many more available for free online. 

Here are a few places to start. Check out all of the Library's primary source databases for more options.

Using Primary Sources in Your Research

The nature of a research project will determine what can serve as a primary text. Literary critics will use literary works as primary texts, in order to find passages that will support their arguments about the meaning of literary works and their place in literary history. Historians will use documents like diaries, newspaper articles, letters, and personal narratives as primary texts, in order to create a fresh interpretation of an historical event.

When you are looking for primary sources, start by searching the Library Catalog. Search by an author from the time period or enter a subject in combination with any of the subject headings used to define primary sources:

Autobiographies
Correspondence
Diaries
Documents
Early works to…
Government documents
Interviews
Legal documents
Letters
Manuscripts
Memoirs
Narratives
Pamphlets
Photographs
Reminiscences
Sources
Speeches

In WorldCat, you may use any of the above strategies or limit your search to “archival materials.”