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Michigan State University

ATD 426: History of Dress and Textiles: Finding Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are the direct, uninterpreted records of the subject of your research project. As such, a primary source can be almost anything, depending on the subject and purpose of your research. Be creative in thinking of possible relevant primary sources of information on your topic.

Searching the MSU Libraries Catalog

To find archival and manuscript material held at the MSU Libraries, perform an an "Advanced Keyword" search. In the first box, type your search term(s). In the second box, change "Any Field" to "Subject" and use one of the following:

  • sources This combination usually produces the most results. Example: howard university AND s:sources; police AND s:sources
  • archives Use for organizations, individual persons & families. Example: roosevelt, theodore AND s:archives
  • archival resources Use for topics and geographic areas (countries, cities, etc.) Example: women AND s:archival resources
  • correspondence Use for classes of persons & ethnic groups and individual persons & families) Examples: journalists AND s:correspondence; vietnamese americans AND s:correspondence; garvey, marcus AND s:correspondence
  • diaries Use for individual persons & families. Example: adams, john AND s:diaries
  • manuscripts Example: michigan AND s:manuscripts
  • notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. Example: lin, maya AND s:notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
  • personal narratives Use for names of events and wars. Example: s: Holocaust AND s: personal narratives
  • personnel records Use for organizations and military units only. dept. of state AND s:personnel records
  • records and correspondence Use for organizations and groups only. Examples: marine corps AND s:records and correspondenc; Lawyers AND s: records and correspondence

Primary Sources Tutorial

The link below connects to the online version of a 2008 exhibit in the Special Collections department of the Michigan State University Libraries. It introduces the many types of primary sources used by researchers, with examples from Special Collections.

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Terrie Wilson's picture
Terrie Wilson
Art Librarian & Head, Fine Arts Library
Michigan State University
Fine Arts Library
Michigan State University