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ENG 234: Using library resources

Searching for Primary Resources Using Library Databases

Using the Library Catalog:

When searching in the Library Catalog do a keyword Boolean search and add the word “source” to your search. Example:
“Elizabeth Cady Stanton” and sources

Other keywords to try:

personal narratives


Example searches:
civil war
personal narratives

slave narratives

NOTE: You can also use these techniques in WorldCat

Using Library Databases:

The library subscribes to a number of databases that include primary source materials. At this point, most of the primary resources found in the library's databases are focused on American history. For non-American history, students may want to try searching for their topics on the web.

When searching Academic Search Complete, do an advanced search and limit your results to Primary Source Documents by highlighting it in the Publication Type box.

The library has a subject page with all its databases that contain primary source documents.

Try some of our specialized databases such as the Historical New York Times, Early American Imprints, Early American Newspapers, Pennsylvania Gazette, African American newspapers, Women and Social Movements.

African American Newspapers (Accessible Archives) Coverage 1728 to 1880. This collection of African American Newspapers contains a wealth of information about the cultural life and history during the 1800s, and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day, including the Mexican War, Presidential and congressional addresses, Congressional abstracts, business and commodity markets, the humanities, world travel and religion. They also contain large numbers of early biographies, vital statistics, essays and editorials, poetry and prose, and advertisements all of which embody the African-American experience.

African American Studies Center (Oxford) The Oxford African American Studies Center provides students, scholars and librarians with more than 7,500 articles by top scholars in the field. The core content includes the highly acclaimed Africana, which presents a powerful account of the African and African American experience in five volumes. The new Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 documents the full range of the African American experience from the arrival of the black explorer, Esteban, who arrived with the Spanish in 1527, to the death of Frederick Douglass, the Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present, offers the most extensive treatment of African American history into the twenty-first century. Bringing the contribution of African American women to the fore is the fascinating three-volume Black Women in America, Second Edition, edited by Darlene Clark Hine. The African American National Biography presents African American history through the lives of its people, offering over 6,000 biographies.

American Broadsides and Ephemera (Readex) Searchable facsimile images of approximately 15,000 broadsides (1820-1876) and 15,000 pieces of ephemera (1770-1876). Broadsides range from contemporary accounts of the Civil War to taxbills, government proclamations, theater playbills, advertisements, patriotic and popular songs and poems. The ephemera collection includes sailing cards, trade cards, bill heads, menus and invitations, stock certificates, theater and music programs.

AP Images (AP) Capturing the greatest moments in history, news, sports, and entertainment as seen by the Associated Press, AP Images is one of the largest collections of historical and contemporary news photographs, containing over 3.5 million images from the 1840s to the present, with thousands more added daily. The collection also includes over 60,000 graphics, containing logos, graphs, maps, and timelines. Excellent resource for primary source photographs. Searching capabilities include the ability to search by keyword, person, date, or event, in addition to browsing feature photograph collections. All content from AP Images may be downloaded and used for educational purposes.

Biography in Context Biographies of notables, includes some primary sources, articles, reference works, etc.

County Histories (NJ, PA and DE) This database contains the contents of county histories written before 1900. The books in the database are often the “cornerstone of local historical and genealogical research.” You can search the contents or browse through the books page by page.

Early American Imprints, Series 1: Evans (Newsbank) Evans Digital Edition is the digital version of Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans (1639-1800) is based on the American Bibliography by Charles Evans and enhanced by Roger Bristol's Supplement to Evans' American Bibliography. This collection is a foundation set for research involving early American history, literature, philosophy, religion, and more. It is the definitive resource for information about every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America, from agriculture and auctions through foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, temperance, witchcraft, etc. The digitization of this collection is an ongoing effort. When completed, Evans Digital Edition will include every item previously produced on microform plus more than 1,200 additional works located, catalogued and digitized since completion of the earlier effort--more than 36,000 works and 2,400,000 images.

Early American Newspapers, Series 1,6,7 (Newsbank) Early American Newspapers features cover-to-cover reproductions of hundreds of historic newspapers, providing more than one million pages as fully text-searchable facsimile images. For searching and browsing American newspapers published in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, America’s Historical Newspapers is the most comprehensive online resource available. Continually expanding, it currently offers fully searchable digital facsimiles of nearly 2,000 titles from all 50 states. With eyewitness reporting, editorials, legislative information, letters, poetry, advertisements, matrimony and death notices and more, this acclaimed collection chronicles the evolution of American culture and daily life across three centuries.

Early English Books Online (Chadwyck-Healey) Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700 - from the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War.

HRAF Collection of Archeology (Yale) The eHRAF Collection of Archaeology is a cross-cultural database containing descriptive information on archaeological traditions of the world. eHRAF is unique because each archaeological tradition contains a variety of source documents (books, articles, and dissertations) that have been indexed and organized according to HRAF's comprehensive tradition and subject classification systems: the Outline of Archaeological Traditions (OAT), and the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM).

HRAF World Cultures (Yale) HRAF World Cultures is a cross-cultural database that contains information on all aspects of cultural and social life.

Islamic Studies Center Online (Oxford) Oxford Islamic Studies Online brings together the best current scholarship in the field and promotes accurate and informed understanding of the Islamic world. Encompasses over 3,000 A-Z reference entries, chapters from scholarly and introductory works, Qur'anic materials, primary sources, images, and timelines. Edited by John L. Esposito, University Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies, Georgetown University.

HarpWeek. Contains digitized images of Harper’s Weekly newspaper. Every issued ever-published – 1857-1912 – Is contained on this Web site. Can be browsed by date, search index, literature genre, and individuals according to their occupation or social role.

Pennsylvania Gazette (Accessible Archives) Published in Philadelphia from 1728 through 1800, The Pennsylvania Gazette is considered The New York Times of the 18th century. It provides the reader with a first hand view of colonial America, the American Revolution and the New Republic, and offers important social, political and cultural perspectives of each of the periods. Thousands of articles, editorials, letters, news items and advertisements cover the Western Hemisphere, from the Canadian Maritime Provinces, through the West Indies and North and South America, giving a detailed glimpse of issues and lifestyles of the times. Also included is the full-text of such important writings such as: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Letters from a Farmer, Thomas Payne`s Common Sense, The Federalist Papers, etc.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers—New York Times. Offers full-text and full-image articles for the New York Times from 1851 to 2003. The collection includes digital reproductions of every page from every issue--cover to cover--in downloadable PDF files.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers—The Wall Street Journal. Unique full-image archive that brings you the full historical run of The Wall Street Journal, the business newspaper of record. It offers complete coverage from 1889-1989.

Women and Social Movements in the United States (Alexander Street Press) Women and Social Movements in the United States brings together books, images, documents, scholarly essays, commentaries, and bibliographies, documenting the multiplicity of women’s activism in public life.