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Michigan State University

Global Catholicism in the Age of Discovery, 1450-1700: Primary Sources

This is a guide to researching Catholicism around the world in the age of discovery, 1450-1700

Primary Sources

Primary sources provide first-hand evidence about an event, place, historical period, discovery, invention, organization, or person’s life.

They may be found in libraries or archives in printed volumes, in manuscripts, on microform, or online.

Diaries, letters, journals, autobiographies, memoirs, some government documents, 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. And here.


As you use the online catalog by subject heading watch for sub-headings: sources, personal narratives, correspondence, early works to 1800.  Example: Counter Reformation--sources

Watch for, look for, citations to primary sources in secondary works and in reference sources, in footnotes or bibliography.

Watch for, look for, references to primary sources amidst search results in periodical index searches.


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, not all listed here in the Global Catholicism guide.

Search by author, title of work, keyword, publisher, or combination.  Limit results by year of publication, language, or general subject area.  Contains printings or re-printings of works by/about people, topics, and places of significance earlier than 1700.

It is supposed to go back to 1492, supposed to have a section on Religion and Empire.  There are many entries under "missionaries."  To what extent Catholic missionaries will be represented I am not sure.  It is English database with English materials in it.

History of Ideas in Europe D 5 Microcards PRR/Microforms/Copy Center 2nd floor West Wing

5,000 microcards containing copies of books selected from the collections of Union Theological Seminary on the religious and ideological struggles of the Reformation.  Searching the title of this set in our online catalog yields 175 entries for individual items in the set which can be read on the microcards.

Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents 1610-1791 Main F 1030.7 .J413 1959 and Microfilm set #1583 reels 581-587 Remote Storage

The web site contains entire the English translation of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, originally compiled and edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and published by The Burrows Brothers Company, Cleveland, throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, detailing Jesuit activities around the world.  Each file in the site represents the total English contents of a single published volume.  Our reprint set on paper and microform has facing pages in the original French, Latin, or Italian depending on the language of the original author.

Mary I, Queen of England, 1516-1558  #14912, 7 reels (Domestic policy) Remote Storage and #17090, 5 reels (Foreign policy) Remote Storage

Complete State Papers Domestic and Foreign of Mary, Queen of England from 1552-1558, a Catholic.  Calendar (table of contents finding aid) to the Domestic material is in Main DA 25 .E3 1552.

Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu Main, Remote Storage, and Online.  Cataloged Separately. Some call numbers below.

A set of primary sources containing documents, bibliographies, etc. dealing with the Jesuits, their organization, missions, and members.  Do a search for the title Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu in our online catalog to see M.S.U. Libraries' holdings, call numbers, and Library locations.  Briefly:

About India=Main BX 3740 .I4 W5 1948 v. 1-10

About Acadia=Remote Storage C (ask at Circulation desk) F 1030.8 .C3

About Canada

About Europe

About Huron Indians=Remote Storage C (ask at Circulation Desk) F 1030.7 .C3 1987

About Quebec=Main BX 3711 .Q82 C3 and Main BX 3701 .M7 C262 1989

About Paraguay=Main BX 3714 .P2 A2 2005

[Letters from Missions India and Brazil]

[Letters, Instructions, etc. of St. Ignatius] and here

[Letters of Alphonso Salmeron]

[Letters of Geronimo Nadal]

[Letters of Juan-Alphonso de Polanco]

[Letters of Petrus Faber]



Monumenta Serica.  Main.  Cataloged separately.  Some call numbers below.

About the history of China.  Some of our volumes are about the history of Christianity in China.  Briefly:

[Bible in China] Main BS 315 .C59 B53 1999

[Jesuit Maps] Special Collections Rare Books xx G 7820 f.S1 F8 1941 ed. And 1943 ed.

[Jesuits and Chinese Rites] Main BV 3415.2 .M86 1994

[Jews/Judaism in China] Main DS 145 .C5 L471 1998;  DS 135 .C5 F76 2000

[Johann Adam Schall, missionary] Main BV 3427 .S35 V37 1991

[Ferdinand Verbiest, missionary, scientists, engineer, diplomat] Main QB 36 .V46 F47 1994

Native American Studies Research Guide

M.S.U. Libraries' guide for researching Native American Indians by M.S.U. librarian Erik Ponder.  See the section on Primary Sources.


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