Answered By: History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2017     Views: 7

  1. Consult with your instructor.
  2. If you have already completed your literature review, make a list of the sources that scholars already working in this area have used. Can you classify these sources into common types (e.g. government documents, memoirs, interviews, polling data, newspapers, correspondence)? Can you further classify these types into published and unpublished sources? Focus first on the sources and source types that you have grouped together as published sources, as these are the sources most likely to be available through the library.
  3. If you have not yet chosen a topic, review our guide to Digital Collections. Can you find a digital collection that fits broadly within the subject scope for your paper? Sometimes you can begin with a set of primary sources, review them to see if any are especially interesting to you, and then work with your instructor to formulate a research question suitable for use with these sources.
  4. Search library databases and indexes by date of publication (to find sources that were published during the time period you're researching--you can also use this strategy in full-text digital collections such as Proquest Historical Newspapers, or JSTOR).
  5. Use the library catalog's advanced search option, and include one or more of these Library of Congress subject headings in your search:
    • Correspondence
    • Sources
    • Diaries
    • Personal narratives
    • Interviews
    • Speeches
    • Documents
    • Archives
    • Early works to 1800
  6. Use ArchiveGrid to locate nearby archival collections, and use unpublished primary sources.
  7. Ask a librarian.

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