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HIST/CRES 123 (Torres-Rouff)

Resources for US Comparative Race Ethnicity (History 123; Critical Race & Ethnic Studies 123)

Finding & Selecting Primary Sources



1. Adjust your search strategy based on the sophistication and size of the collection you are searching.

  • Some collections may only parse simple keywords.
  • Some collections may pay attention to phrase searching " ".

2. Use filters such as date, format type, location, Subject to refine your search results.

3. Focus on using the location as the primary keywords in your searches.

4. Add other terminology if you search results are not too narrow that *may* indicate something more about the people.

  • miners, Chinese, society, Irish, labor, treatment, society, demographics, population, community
  • Unfortunately pejorative or derogatory terms may be in older full-text newspapers etc. describing those of a specific race or ethnicity.

5. Look at where the original materials are located/held.  This may lead you to additional collections where you can search.

1. Select what is available.  Is it online or do you have to visit the archive?

2. Select what is appropriate. Will it contribute to the theme of tracing a race in a specific place?

3. Select what is usable.  Is the format usable, readable, transcribed?

4. Select across a range of dates.  Do you have materials that meet the date expectations of the assignment?

5. Select items that refer to your place. Inspect the metadata.  Does the item you located refer to the place you have selected OR to another place with the same name?