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The Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library
Sources created by those who lived it
Any document, image, or artifact created at the time of the topic being researched is a primary source. Examples include: eyewitness accounts, autobiographies and memoirs, diaries, letters, speeches, reports, newspapers, household and day-to-day objects, clothing, works of art, architecture, and photographs.
Please note: primary source documents are a reflection of the time and culture in which they were created and may contain language or images that are considered offensive today.
Find Primary Sources in RhinoCat
RhinoCat is the Library's automated catalog of books, ebooks, DVDs, and other library materials. Many books and reference sources, print and electronic, contain primary sources.
- To find writings, speeches, and more by a person related to your topic
- Do an Author search using your person's name to find books, letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies written by that person.
- Do a Keyword search of your person's name to identify writings, interviews, speeches in anthologies and collections.
- To find documents relating to your topic
- Copy and paste the following exact word string into the basic keyword search box:
- su,wrdl: sources or su,wrdl: diaries or su,wrdl: personal narratives and kw,wrdl: xxxxx
- Substitute your topic or topic phrase for xxxxx
- Additional terms useful for locating primary sources are: correspondence, interviews, speeches, and statistics.
Find Primary Sources on the Internet
Combine your topic search term(s) with the phrase documents or "primary sources"
For example: to find primary sources on the 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas (still the deadliest natural disaster in US history)
We'd love to help!
See Mr. Padgett, Ms. Taylor, or Mr. Previti
OR email us at
We're here to help!
Historical Newspaper / Periodical Databases
When searching for primary sources in newspaper / periodical databases:
- Always limit your search to the date range relevant to your topic.
- Search terms, phrases, etc. that were commonly used at the time in relation to your topic.
- Look at other limiters on the advanced search page that might improve your results, such as article, commentary, editorial, essay, feature, front page / cover story, letter to the editor, etc.
Access World News -- Historical and Current
Search thousands of credible, global news sources from more than 200 countries and territories. TIP:
Sort results by BEST MATCH. NOTE:
Citations can be exported to NoodleTools. For a list of suggested topics, click here.
African American Newspapers, 1827-1998
Full-text access to 270 historically significant African-American newspapers from across the U.S. TIPS:Choose Advanced Search; change Sort to BEST. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
America's Historical Newspapers 1690 – 2000
A timeline-based interface divided into key eras in U.S. history from 1690 to 2000. Each issue/event includes an overview, and links to related articles in newspapers of the time. Click on "Back to Search" in the upper left corner to perform an advanced search of historical newspapers in the parent database Access World News -- Historical and Current. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
A year-by-year record of British and world events published annually since 1758, the Annual Register is both a primary source for historical research and a reference source for current affairs. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
British Periodicals (1681 - 1937)
Full facsimile images of more than 160 periodicals from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth. Topics covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts, and the social sciences. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
New York Times: 1851-2018
TIPS: Choose Advanced Search and limit the date range. For opinion pieces, limit Document Type to Editorials. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers
Contains full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from urban and rural regions throughout the U.S. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
The Times (London) Digital Archive 1785-2014
More than 200 years of news in full facsimile images from London's premier newspaper. TIPS: Choose Advanced Search and limit by Publication Date. Limit Document Type to Editorial. NOTE: Citations can be exported to NoodleTools.
NoodleTools Tips for Citing Primary Sources
PLEASE NOTE: Do not copy and paste complete citations from electronic sources. NoodleTools cannot generate footnotes from copied and pasted citations.
For a new citation, click on +New Source.
To cite a Primary Source, first choose the NoodleTools option that best describes where you found it:
- Database = a document found in a Taft Subscription Database such as The New York Times, 1851-2014.
- You must provide the permanent URL for your source. Look for any of the following on the page: permalink, persistent link, stable link, durable link, "Get link", or Cite.
- Website = a document on a website found through a search engine such as Google.
- Print or In Hand = a document found in a book in the library. For example: in a reference book or a secondary source.
Next determine what kind of primary source you are citing:
- Look at the list of options in NoodleTools. Is it a newspaper article, a speech, a letter, or another item listed? If so, choose that item type.
- If you are not sure, you can use "Anthology / Collection" which enables you to cite a source found within another source.
You can also see (or email) Mr. Padgett, Ms. Taylor, or Mr. Previti and we'll help you figure it out.