University Library DePaul Library

Finding Books with Primary Sources

Published books can be a wonderful, simple way to access primary sources. When searching for books, use the following terms:
  • charters
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • early works to 1800
  • interviews
  • letters
  • manuscripts
  • maps
  • oratory
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • photographs
  • sources
  • speeches

Digital Primary Source Collections

Published Collections of Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

[Image: "Aloha Oe, Words & music by Queen Liliuokalani, Published 1913"]

What are primary sources? Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Primary sources can be treaties, photographs, legislation, diaries, speeches, interviews, letters, manuscripts, newspaper articles, artifacts, or other materials -- generally from the time of study (although, with oral histories, for example, they might be reflections of the past).

Primary sources can be in any format.  Primary sources might be original documents in archives, republished in a contemporary book, available online, or preserved on microfilm.  The content of the material -- rather than the format -- determines whether or not it's a primary source.