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HIST 020: American Civilization to 1877

Professor Lindsay Keiter

Search Term Strategies

Primary sources are eyewitness accounts, the first record of an event, or documents created when the event first occurred. They may be in print or electronic formats including:

  • diaries
  • field research reports
  • letters
  • notes
  • memoirs
  • minutes of meetings
  • news footage
  • newspaper articles
  • oral histories
  • personal papers
  • public documents
  • speeches

Primary sources also include films, poetry, music, or art, and artifacts such as stone points, pottery, furniture, or buildings.


   Examples of effective search term strategies to locate published primary sources:

  • Oral History:
    • "Civil War" and "oral history"
  • Eyewitness or Personal Narratives:
    • "American Revolution" and eyewitness
  • Letters or Correspondence:
    • "Benjamin Franklin" and correspondence
  • Diaries/Diary:
    • diary and "Abraham Lincoln"
  • Speeches:
    • speeches and women

Primary Sources in Databases