Skip to main content

HIS 400 - S04: History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality in America [Fall 2017]

The source-driven junior paper

Often, the best work arises from close engagement with a primary source. As you read, you'll think of questions or begin to shape an argument. The hard part is to find a primary source that addresses the broad general area of interest. Here are some strategies for finding primary sources:

Finding primary sources in library catalogs

Different library catalogs have different interfaces, and Princeton's library catalog currently offers two, the old Main Catalog and the new Books+. But no matter what catalog you're searching, there are some strategies that can help you find primary sources.

To find the papers of an individual, search for that person as an author, e.g. jackson, andrew

To find the records of an organization or government body, use the name of the organization as an author e.g. United States. Dept. of State

Include one of these words as a keyword or a subject:

  • sources
  • diaries
  • correspondence
  • personal narrative

If you find something that looks useful, look at the detailed view of the catalog record and try to identify the "subject" assigned. For many topics in history, there's an official term used in all Anglo-American library catalogs, like:

  • Cuba--History--Revolution, 1959--Sources.
  • Argentina --History--Sources.
  • United States--Foreign relations--Cuba--Sources.
  • Coups d'état--Venezuela--History--Sources.

To find works published in a particular time and place, explore the search options. It is usually possible to  limit your search by date, language, or location of publication. 

Digital Primary about LGBT History in the United States

Other resources to locate primary sources

Related guides