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Finding Primary Source Materials

Last modified: June 26, 2015


Using Primary Sources on the Web

An instructional page from the American Library Association about how to identify, find, and evaluate primary sources. This informative page also includes links to primary resources on the Web.

Using Primary and Secondary Sources: A Practice Tutorial

This interactive tutorial provides students practice with differentiating between primary and secondary sources. Research scenarios are used to teach the skills and activities are instantly assessed. Also links to a helpful guide on finding primary sources online. Keywords: periodicals, identifying sources, newspaper, oral histories, memoirs, documents, raw material.

Primary Research Articles: Article Analysis Exercise

This self-paced tutorial provides students with practice evaluating an article and its bibliographic information to determine if it is a primary research article. Keywords: self assessment, quizzes, printable primary, and secondary sources, evaluating research articles.

Analyzing Scholarly Articles

Interactive, printable tutorial that teaches students how to differentiate between primary  and secondary research articles and how to incorporate each in research assignments. Includes practice components with instant feedback. 

Last modified: April 26, 2016

Finding Primary Source Materials - General Resources

UA Library Catalog

Use our advanced catalog to search for different types of primary resources. Follow these steps: 

  • In the first search box, type your major search topic.
  • On the second line, change Any Field to Subject.
  • Type one of the following into the Subject line:
    • Sources
    • Interviews
    • Personal Narratives
    • Statistics
    • Diaries
    • Correspondence
    • Biography
    • Archives
  • You can search more than one of these by putting OR between words.
  • Autobiographical information can be found by changing Any Field to Author and typing in the name of the person.
  • Early Works can be used to search for Primary Sources from before 1800.


The world's largest union catalog of books, manuscripts and other materials held in libraries worldwide. Follow the same steps and use the same terminology as those for the UA Library Catalog above. If we don't own something, use the Interlibrary Loan option.

Special Collections

Special Collections maintains collections of rare books and unique archival materials that make possible in-depth research on selected topics. You can use Special Collections to locate rare books, manuscript collections, photographs, and other materials in a wide variety of subject areas.


Maps are also primary sources and we own maps from all over the world. Follow the link above to learn how to search for maps.

Last modified: January 14, 2015

Finding Primary Source Materials - Historical Texts

American Periodicals Series Online 1740-1900

Over 1,100 periodicals published from 1740 to 1900, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, and many other historically significant periodicals.

Congressional Universe

Index to government hearings, reports and the Serial Set from 1789 until the present, as well as digitized full text.

Early English Books Online (EEBO)

Contains digital 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.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

Full-text of every significant English-language and foreign-language title covering multiple disciplines printed in Great Britain from 1701 to 1800.

Evans Digital Edition 1639-1800

Full text of early American imprints, based upon the renowned American Bibliography by Charles Evans. Fully searchable as well as organized by genre such as Almanacs, Broadsides, Devotional literature, Travel guides, Plays, etc.

Nineteenth Century in Print

Collection of over 1,500 digitized books from the 19th century in all subject areas, and full-text of 23 periodicals including: Scientific American, Scribner's, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, and The Galaxy. Periodical titles cover the dates 1815-1901.

Periodicals Archive Online

Hundreds of digitized journals published in the arts, humanities and social sciences, representing more than 200 years of scholarship. Also searches the British Periodicals database.

Last modified: September 30, 2014

Finding Primary Source Materials - Newspapers

America's Historical Newspapers

A digitized collection: early American newspapers including titles from all 50 present states. Includes: Early American Newspapers, Series 1 (1690 - 1876), Early American Newspapers, Series 2 (1758 - 1900) and Early American Newspapers, Series 3 (1829 - 1922).

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Full text and full image of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from October 26, 1841 to December 31, 1902.

Chicago Defender 1999- Current
Chicago Defender 1910 - 1975

The full text backfile of the influential black newspaper. The Chadwyck version combines several resources for research in Black Studies: Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, International Index to Black Periodicals (IIBP), The Chicago Defender, and the Black Literature Index.

Chicago Tribune

Full text and full image searching and retrieving of the Chicago Tribune, 1849-1986.

The Times (London)

Full text of all of the entire Times. Covers 1785-1984. One can view the entire page or specific article. The contents of this newspaper are completely searchable.

Proquest Historical Newspapers

Full text and full image searching and retrieving of historic New York Times (1851 - 2006), LA Times (1881-1987), Atlanta Constitution (1868-1945), Chicago Tribune (1849-1987), and Washington Post (1877-1993).

Nineteenth Century Masterfile (Poole's Plus) (1802-1906)

Index to American and British publications,the New York Times (1863-1905), New York Daily Tribune (1875-1906), and government publications (1774-1881). Links to some full text.

Last modified: May 1, 2017

Finding Primary Source Materials - Online Images


Images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Ad*Access concentrates on five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II. Created by Duke University from images in its advertising collection.

American Memory Project

From the Library of Congress; includes photographs from the National Archives.

Archive of Early American Images.

A database of pictures of the colonial Americas, from Hudson Bay to Tierra del Fuego, based entirely on primary sources printed or created between 1492 and ca. 1825.

AP Photo Archive 

Over 400,000 contemporary and selected historical images from the archive of the Associated Press.


A repository of hundreds of thousands of digital images and related data

Life Photo Archive

Life Photo Archive stretches from 1750 to today.

Last modified: September 30, 2014