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History 191 (Saeteurn)

Library Session

Where do you usually start your research?
Google: 4 votes (40%)
Library databases: 5 votes (50%)
Books: 0 votes (0%)
Other: 1 votes (10%)
Total Votes: 10

Use the Free Web

Locate Primary Sources on the Free Web

1. Use Terminology to Highlight Primary Sources

  • Identify keywords to represent your research interest. 
  • Pair these terms with a word or phrase that may represent an organization that offers primary sources.
  • Search for these terms using a free web search engine.


"digital exhibit"

"digital collection"

"primary sources"


"special collections"








"teacher's kits"


"lesson plans"

"learning object"




"archival footage"


"legal records"


"oral history" etc.


Sample Searches:

2. Limit to a Specific Domain

  • Limit to a specific domain to bring up items from .org or .edu sites.  Many of these are affiliated with archives, museums etc.
  • Use Google's Advanced Search OR use a shortcut. .... :edu

Sample Searches:

Identifying Primary Sources

Which of these is a primary source?
Opioid Industry Documents: 10 votes (83.33%)
Taking the Bait from the Prescription Opioid Industry: a Mea Culpa: 1 votes (8.33%)
Opioid Epidemic: 1 votes (8.33%)
Total Votes: 12

Visit Known Repository

Locate a Library Database

Strategies to Locate a Subscription Database

  1. Use filters at our A-Z Databases.
  2. Search broadly at A-Z Databases.
  3. Skim database summaries.
  4. When presented with a list of databases, using Control F (PC) or CDM F (MAC) to look for key words.

Note: While free web searching, you may find references to subscription databases.  Return to our A-Z Databases listing and search for that database.  We may subscribe to it.

This guide has a section on Primary Source Databases.  It does not include all items in our A-Z Databases listing.


Social Media

Search Twitter (Explore Page)


The Chicago Manual of Style refers to archival materials as manuscripts.  Manuscripts information starts at 14.221. These are common elements for manuscript citations though it is not uncommon for elements to be missing.

  • Title (could include the name of the creator)
  • Date
  • Series Titles (includes items like reference numbers, box or folder numbers when available)
  • Name of the Collection
  • Name of the Repository
  • URL OR Database Name (for electronic items)