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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 your individual
- 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.
If you have any questions, 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:
Choose Advanced Search if it is not the default search.
Always limit your search to the date range relevant to your topic.
Search for terms, phrases, etc. that were commonly used at the time in relation to your topic. For example: World War I was known as the "Great War" prior to World War II.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find Primary Sources on the Internet
To find primary source material about your individual on the internet, you can copy and paste the phrase
letters OR diaries OR journals OR interviews OR speeches OR quotes AND "your individual's name"
Think also about primary source types relevant to your individual's area of work / expertise, for example:
If you are focusing on a particular historical event or time in which your individual was significant, you can do a search like
Documents OR "primary sources" AND Mussolini AND fascism
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, 1851-2017.
- 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 print book. For example: in a reference book or a secondary source/monograph.
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.