Primary sources provide first-hand evidence about an event, place, historical period, discovery, invention, or person’s life. They may be found in online resources, in printed volumes in the stacks of the library, or on microform. Diaries, letters, journals, some government documents, some newspaper articles, some periodical articles, early printed books, manuscripts, archival collections, pamphlets, ephemera, facsimiles or reprints of early works, photographs, artifacts, maps, field notes, oral histories, or records of organizations/companies may all be primary sources. Read more about them here.
Use the online catalog. Do a subject heading search. Look for results that have the sub-heading “early works to 1800.” These will be primary sources.
In the online catalog also watch for sub-headings such as personal narratives, correspondence, sources, archives, or documents, as these also indicate primary sources.
Visit M.S.U. Libraries’ Special Collections which contains our old and rare books, popular culture, comic art, radicalism, textbooks, and other primary source materials. Because of M.S.U.’s land-grant heritage our collection of primary sources in the sciences is good.
Here is a list of databases and microform sets of, or containing, primary sources:
American Periodicals Series
"This database contains periodicals published between 1740 and 1940, including special interest and general magazines, literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines and many other historically-significant periodicals."
Archive of Americana
Portal for: 1. Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans 1639-1800, 2. Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker 1801-1819 3. Afro-Americana imprints, 1532-1922 : from the Library Company of Philadelphia.
Beaumont, William, 1785-1853 6319 2 reels PRR/Microforms/Copy Center
His papers cover 1807-1853. He was the physician who treated voyageur Alexis St. Martin, who, after being shot in the stomach, lived, although the wound did not heal over. Beaumont observed the actions of his stomach. See also online catalog entries for works by Beaumont.
Artemis Primary Sources
This is a portal to Gale's primary source material which permits cross-searching between collections. At present, ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) and NCCO (Nineteenth Century Collections Online) are included.
British Isles Online Primary Resources
This is a guide to the major electronic resources M.S.U. Libraries has bought or is subscribing to about/from the British Isles.
British Newspapers 1600-1950
Indexing and links to full texts of newspaper articles in London and English provincial newspapers. Also covers a few Continental newspapers. This is a cross searchable interface for the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection and the 19th Century British Library Newspapers databases.
British Periodicals, Collections I and II
The nineteenth century was the great age of the periodical. Fiction, non-fiction, book reviews, commentary on world events and more are all to be found in the periodicals of the day.
British Periodicals consists of two separate collections, British Periodicals Collection I and British Periodicals Collection II. Dates of coverage span 1681-1930s.
British Periodicals Collection I consists of more than 160 journals that comprise the UMI microfilm collection Early British Periodicals, the equivalent of 5,238 printed volumes containing approximately 3.1 million pages. Disciplines covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts and the social sciences.
British Periodicals Collection II consists of more than 300 journals from the UMI microfilm collections English Literary Periodicals and British Periodicals in the Creative Arts together with additional titles, amounting to almost 3 million pages. Disciplines covered include literature, music, art, drama, archaeology and architecture.
You may search them all here or in the Libraries' electronic resources through the portal C19: The Nineteenth Century Index or through the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals Online, also in the Libraries electronic resources.
Church Missionary Society Periodicals, Modules I and II
From its roots as an Anglican evangelical movement driven by lay persons, this resource encompasses publications from the CMS and the latterly integrated South American Missionary Society. Documenting missionary work from the 19th to the 21st century, the periodicals include news, journals and reports offering a unique perspective on global history and cultural encounter.
Module I is comprised of periodicals published by the Church Missionary Society and South American Missionary Society from 1804-2009.
Module II contains periodicals and annual reports published by the Church Missionary Society and its auxiliaries, and the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, from 1816-1986.
Documents are indexed by places (region, city, and mission station), countries, names and key search terms.
Corpus Christi College. University of Cambridge. Mediaeval Manuscript Collections, Section VI, ‘Medica' and Natural Sciences. film 27896 11 reels Remote Storage. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request.
Z 6621 .C174 C67 Microcopy Guides is a guide to this. For additional assistance with both of these sets see A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Z 6621 .C18 C8 Main
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
Provides digital access to the citations, full texts, and illustrations of 106,639 works listed in Pollard and Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640 (Main and Consulting Reference Z 2002 .A27 and 1976), Wing's Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books Printed in other Countries, 1641-1700 (Main and Consulting Reference Z 2002 .W52 and 1972 and 1994) and the Thomason Tracts (Main and Remote Storage Z 2018 .T49 1977), a compendium of broadsides on the English Civil War, 1640-1660. M.S.U. Libraries owns microfilm of this material also, in sets STC I, STC II, and 14458, respectively in Hollander Make Central, 2nd floor West. Search by author, title, keywords, subject heading, imprint, date, type of illustration, film reel ID number, STC number, source library, language, or combinations. Browse indexes. To search within a text in EEBO use the link in The Database List called EEBO Text Creation Partnership.
Early English Books Online (EEBO) Text Creation Partnership using PhiloLogic
PhiloLogic is the software developed at University of Chicago initially for use with ARTFL, a full-text database of French literature texts (offered here at M.S.U., see under 'A' in our electronic resources).
The PhiloLogic system has been extended to other textual databases developed at academic and now commercial institutions, including EEBO.
Using this link to access EEBO TCP documents is often faster and more expeditious than using the other EEBO TCP link we have listed in M.S.U.'s electronic resources pages.
Entering EEBO using PhiloLogic to search for bibliographic records by author, title, etc. in which word searches within a text are not needed is also possible here.
The Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership is creating 25,000 searchable and readable editions that link immediately to the corresponding ProQuest image files.
The purpose of Early English Books Online is to provide electronic versions of texts written in English or published/printed in English-speaking places from the beginning of printing, 1473, to 1700. Works initially written prior to 1470 often had their first printed versions during this time period.
Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO)
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) contains digital versions of 150,000 works published or printed from 1701-1800 in England, and other English-speaking places around the world (including the rest of the British Isles, the American colonies, and the early United States). Look here to find full texts of primary source materials in history, geography, literature, language, religion, philosophy, social science, fine arts, music, architecture, medicine, science, technology, and law, as well as general reference works from the 18th century. The database also includes works in other western European languages which were published or printed in England or other English-speaking places during this time. We own much of the microfilm set from which the database has been made, called The Eighteenth Century (call number 17435 in PRR/Microforms/Copy Center). Not everything in the microfilm set was digitized full text, but every item is indexed online. Search by author, title of work, keyword and publisher. Searches can be limited by year of publication, language, or general subject area.
Eighteenth Century Journals, Part I-V
Eighteenth-Century Journals contains rare English journals printed between c1685 and 1815, illuminating all aspects of eighteenth-century social, political and literary life. Many are ephemeral, lasting only for a handful of issues, others run for several years. Topics covered are extremely wide-ranging and include: colonial life; provincial and rural affairs; the French and American revolutions; reviews of literature and fashion throughout Europe; political debates; and London coffee house gossip and discussion.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1796. Papers Main E 302 .F82 L3 v. 1-39
American statesman, scientist, and philosopher.
French Books Before 1601 film set 4265 530 reels film Remote Storage. e-mail email@example.com to request.
Short-title list/guide in Microcopy Guides Section at Z 2162 .F7 1965. Significant books published in France before 1601 on film.
German Books Before 1601 film set 4336 Remote Storage. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request.
Guide to use with the set in Microcopy Guides Z 2222 .G3 1965. Significant books published in “Germany” before 1601.
Great Britain. General Board Health. The Local Reports to the General Board of Health, 1848-1857. JS 3068 .L6 - 214 fiche Hollander Make Central 2 West
Information on urban and rural social conditions in industrial Britain. Covers all topics which inspectors believed had an impact on the moral and physical welfare of the people and their government in 296 localities and 48 countries. "Complete alphabetical listing on sheet one."
Great Britain. Local Government Board. Reports, 1869-1908. HN 382 - 233 fiche Hollander Make Central 2 West
Presents results of exhaustive social investigations throughout Britain about housing, occupations, rents, hospital accomodations, food supplies, sanitation, and public health. Part of a series called Urban and Rural Social Conditions in Industrial Britain. The guide is Reports to the Local Government Board, 1869-1908, A Complete Listing and Guide to the Harvester Microfiche Collection. Z 7165 .G8 R46 Microcopy Guides section.
Italian Books Before 1601 4879 Remote Storage. e-mail email@example.com to request.
"Based upon, but not restricted to, titles in the Short-title catalogue of books printed in Italy and of Italian books printed in other countries from 1465 to 1600 now in the British Museum." –
Landmarks of Science
150 boxes of microcards in Hollander Make Central 2 West. call number Q 111 .L35, containing the first edition of every significant scientific work to 1800. Essential writings in the history of science. Works are cataloged individually in the online catalog. There is a guide to this collection in Microcopy Guides Section, 2nd floor west at Q 111 .L35 1985 guide.
Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO)
See in this resource Archives 7, 9, and 12. Seven and nine contain materials on Science, Technology, and Medicine, 1780-1925. Twelve contains materials on Religion, Society, Spirituality, and Reform.
Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers
Approximately 500 U.S. newspapers, published between 1800 and 1900. Papers selected cover a broad spectrum, with a comprehensive geographical and chronological range. Full-text searching allows users to search across the entire database for the specific term/subject/person/event they are looking for. Searches can be restricted by categories (such as, Advertising, Business News, Images, Editorials, etc.), by states & cities, and by date of publication. Also includes commissioned scholarly essays on topics and events such as the Confederacy, fires & firefighting, immigration, and elections.
Periodicals Archive Online
Periodicals Archive Online is the new name for PCI Full Text - an archive of hundreds of digitised journals published in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
It provides researchers with access to more than 200 years of scholarship, spread across a wide variety of subject areas.
Profiles in Science
Biographical information about 20th-century biomedical scientists through digitized selections from their archives. Scientists are grouped into three categories: biomedical research, health and medicine, and fostering science and health. For each person there is an online "exhibit" which introduces their life/work, a biographical essay, and summaries of aspects of his/her scientific contributions. Links to sections titled All Documents and All Visuals follow. These sections may include text, photographs, and audio/video clips, with selected annotations. Their archives are at NLM, National Library of Medicine, or other institutions.
Royal Society Philosophical Transactions
Full text online. This link is set to open in the record in Hathi Trust's full text digital edition from the beginning of publication in 1665 to 1775. It continues later, yes. To find later volumes online, in print, on microform, search the MSU Libraries' online catalog for author "Royal Society" and modify your search to include title "Transactions." OR use the Hathi Trust Digital Library itself: http://www.hathitrust.org/ and search in their catalog for later volumes. This is the earliest peer reviewed scientific journal in the English language, even though the word "philosophical" is in the title. Published in London.
The Rare Book and Special Collections unit of M.S.U. Libraries contains thousands of good old books in the sciences (because of M.S.U.’s land grant history) and humanities/social sciences. There is a collection of Veterinary Medicine books. The 18th century is well-represented also. There are old textbooks. There are Sunday School Books. There are cookery books. Go to this unit of the Library, Basement Center, and ask for help at the desk 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday or 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Do a search in the online catalog and confine your search results to Special Collections to see what we have on your topic there.
Times Digital Archive, 1785 - 2011
Search the complete digital edition of The Times (London) to retrieve full facsimile images of either a specific article or a complete page. The entire newspaper is captured, with all articles, advertisements, and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate searching. For online access to the London Times 1985 onwards, check the online catalog using a periodical title search for Times. It is also available on microfilm in the Hollander Make Central, 2nd floor West wing.
Sunday Times Digital Archive, 1822-2006
Sunday edition of the London Times from 1822-2006, one of the world's most important English language newspapers. For the daily edition see Times Digital Archive 1785-2006, another electronic resource.
Vincent Voice Library Collection
The G. Robert Vincent Voice Library is a collection of over 40,000 hours of spoken word recordings, dating back to 1888. The collection includes the voices of over 100,000 persons from all walks of life.