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American History 1493-Community Histories: History Websites

Primary Source information and search tips

What are primary sources?  Primary sources are records in real time or a first-hand descriptions of events. For example, journalists on the scene, an eyewitness, spectator, or an observer can all provide immediate accounts of an event. Among the many items considered as primary are narratives, interviews, diaries, letters, memos, memoirs, speeches, photographs, maps, oral histories, government records/documents, and more. The following links provide information about primary sources and the difference between different kinds of sources (primary, secondary, and tertiary).
Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) - Primary Sources on the Web:

Search Tips:
Using the library Discovery system to search for primary documents. For items owned by NSU Libraries, choose the "Books and Media" tab from the library home page. Enter in key terms and add some of the keywords to narrow the search for primary source information. Some of the items will not be primary sources in the keyword search, but many will be.

  • oral histor* (Note: by placing an asterisk, the search will look for all variations of the root word, e.g. history, histories, historical)
  • "oral history" (Note: enclosing the phrase by using quotations marks, the search will locate records with the complete phrase)
  • personal narratives
  • speeches
  • documents
  • diaries
  • memoirs
  • interviews
  • archives
  • microform
  • letters

Combine these keywords with search terms:

  • "cold war" and memoirs or use "cold war" memoirs
  • president speeches or use campaign speeches
  • reconstruction documents
  • immigration sources

Oklahoma History

The following websites offer information about Oklahoma History.

Evaluating Websites

Please see information guide provided by UMass Amherst Libraries about College Writing and Evaluating Websites, Evaluating Resources on the Web, and Evaluating Videos. See link below.