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HOW DO I? •Request an Item the Library Doesn't Own
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The Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library

Remember the Ladies: Research Paper: Primary Sources

Primary Sources

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.  


Click Here for Tips on Citing Primary Sources

Find Primary Sources in Online Databases

NOTE: when searching for primary sources in historical newspaper / periodical databases, ALWAYS limit your search to the date range relevant to your topic. You may also want to limit to editorial / opinion articles.

History Databases containing Primary Sources

Find Primary Sources in RhinoCat Library Catalog

To find primary source material in books/ebooks and reference books/ebooks, follow these tips:

To find primary sources by or about a person relevant to your topic in our catalog

  • Do an Author search using the name of a person relevant to your topic to find books, letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies written by that person.
  • Do an Author search using the name of the United States President in office at the time to find Public Papers, as well as books, letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies.
  • Do a Keyword search of your person's name to identify writings, interviews, speeches in anthologies and collections.
  • Keywords you can combine with your topic or person's name include speeches, diaries, interviews, and correspondence. For example:
    • Progressive era speeches  
    • Theodore Roosevelt correspondence

To find primary sources on your topic in our catalog

  • Paste the following exact word string into the RhinoCat basic keyword search box below:
    su,wrdl: personal narratives or su,wrdl: sources or su,wrdl: diaries and kw,phr: xxxxx
    • Substitute your broad topic or topic phrase for xxxxx

Search RhinoCat 


Primary Source Magazines in the Library

These original journals are shelved at the end of the Reference collection.

  • Harper's Magazine (1922-1971)
  • Life magazine (1936-1972)  The complete run of Life is also available online.
  • Time magazine (1930-1966)

Thank you for handling these fragile bound volumes with care.

If you would like a copy of an article or an advertisement, please take a picture or scan the image using your smartphone.

If you have any questions, see
Mr. Padgett, Ms. Taylor, or Mr. Previti
OR email us at
We're here to help!

Find Primary Sources on the Internet

Primary Sources: American Women A research guide from Christopher Newport University Library

Discovering American Women's History Online (Digital collections of primary source materials browsable by subject, place, time period, and source type)

LIFE Magazine Archive (published from late Nov 1936 to 1972, LIFE was "the photographic magazine that chronicled the 20th century")

Women's History: Digital Collection at the Library of Congress

Teaching American History: Core Document Collections by Era (A project of the Ashbrook Center, Ashland University, dedicated to supporting students and teachers of U.S. history)


TO SEARCH GOOGLE: Combine your topic search term(s) with the phrase documents OR "primary sources" 

Google Web Search