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Primary & Secondary Sources

This guide will help you learn the difference between primary and secondary sources in various subject areas and provides resources for locating primary sources, both in the library and on the open web.

Discovery Tools

WorldCat is the Online Computer Library Center’s (OCLC) online “union catalog.” It is a database of more than 1 billion records of books and other materials held in more than 10,000 academic, public, special and national libraries around the world. You can use the Advanced Search option to limit your search to “Archival Materials.”

ArchiveGrid describes primary sources for material on family and corporate histories, personal papers, and historical records with direct search access to dispersed collections and collection descriptions.

Archive Finder brings together ArchivesUSA and the cumulative index to the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the UK and Ireland (NIDS UK/Ireland). ArchivesUSA is a current directory of over 5,500 repositories and more than 161,000 collections of primary source material across the United States.

More resources for primary source material online...

The History Guide Contains links to a number of good websites for primary sources.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project Paul Halsall, Fordham University

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog Library of Congress

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries with links to more than 3,000 online exhibits of library and archival materials.

Other Library/Research Guides about Primary Sources:

New York University Libraries

UC Berkeley Library

University of North Carolina Libraries

St. Olaf College Libraries

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

BMCC Library Contains information on the distinctions between primary/secondary in sciences and humanities. 

Digitized Primary SourcesThis part of NYU's Primary Sources LibGuide has a lot of great links to primary sources on the Internet.