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Primary Source Search Tips
To find primary sources in the MSU Library catalog, add the following search terms as keywords or subjects to your search:
- personal narratives
An example search for primary sources would look something like this:
"War of 1812" AND correspondence
What is a Primary Source?
Primary sources provide direct or firsthand evidence about an event, person, or object. These sources are contemporary to the events and people described, meaning that they were often created during the time being studied or by those who witnessed an event firsthand.
Examples of primary sources include: newspapers, diaries, letters, memoirs and autobiographies, speeches, photographs, and government documents.
Primary Resources at MSU
American History, 1493-1945
This unique collection documents American History from the earliest settlers to the mid-twentieth century. It is sourced from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the finest archives available for the study of American History.
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."
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600 - 2000
The database includes more than 25,000 pages of documents pertaining to Women and Social Movements, a dictionary of social movements and organizations, a chronology of U.S. women's history, and teaching tools with lesson ideas and document-based questions related to the website's document projects
Archives Unbound Collections
Use the Browse Collections button to see contents.
Political Extremism and Radicalism in the 20th Century
Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century is a compilation of rare and unique archival collections covering a wide range of fringe political movements. It has been sourced from distinguished libraries and archives across the world but also premiers some previously hidden treasure troves.
Includes content from MSU's American Radicalism Collection, among many other sources.
Religions of America
Religions of America traces the history and unique character of religious movements that originated in or were re-shaped by the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection pays especially close attention to America’s unique role as a birthplace for new religious movements, especially after World War II. This collection includes materials from a variety of sources in an effort to capture the varieties of the American religious experience.
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).
American Historical Periodicals Series 1-6 Digital Archive
Access on the Gale platform to American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Colonial Era through the Civil War and Reconstruction, providing digital access to a comprehensive collection of American periodicals published between 1684 and 1912.
Times Digital Archive, 1785 - 2012
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.
Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers
This database is composed of approximately 500 U.S. newspapers, published between 1800 and 1900. It includes titles from throughout the United States, including many published in what were, at the time, only territories.
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
Includes the full text of: Atlanta Constitution (1868-1988), Baltimore Sun (1837-1991), Boston Globe (1872-1985), Chicago Tribune (1849-1993), Christian Science Monitor (1908-2003), Detroit Free Press (1831-1999), L.A. Times (1881-1993), Louisville Courier Journal (1830-1922), Nashville Tennessean (1812-1922), SF Chronicle (1865-1922), New York Times (1851-2013), Wall Street Journal (1889-1999), Washington Post (1877-2000), Jerusalem Post 1932-1988), and the Times of India (1838-2007). It also includes historical black newspapers: Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003), Chicago Defender (1909-1975), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005) New Amsterdam News (1922-1993), and the Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002). Finally, it contains these aggregations: "Ethnic NewsWatch" (1959-present) and "ProQuest Civil War Era" (selected newspapers and pamphlets from 1850-1870).
Detroit Free Press (1923-1999) can only be searched using the Advanced Search full text Anywhere option. No results will be retrieved otherwise.
America's Historical Newspapers
The default search setting is for the entire Early American Newspapers database. To search for the Michigan titles, click on the Newspaper Titles tab and select each Michigan title.
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.
American Religion: Denominational Newspapers
This resource provides:
- Exclusive focus on American denominational newspapers during the age of religion
- More than 320 newspapers from 30-plus states, all published between 1799 and 1900
- Important commentary on such social issues as slavery, women’s suffrage and the Temperance movement
American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity.
Pioneering in the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin ca. 1820-1910
The collection's 138 volumes depict the land and its resources; the conflicts between settlers and Native peoples; the experience of pioneers and missionaries, soldiers and immigrants and reformers; the growth of local communities and local cultural traditions; and the development of regional and national leadership in agriculture, business, medicine, politics, religion, law, journalism, education, and the role of women.
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs
Search the digitized prints and photographs collections held by the Library of Congress. Collections of note include Cartoon Prints, American; Fine Prints; Drawings (Documentary); and Popular Graphic Arts.
ARTstor is a digital image database containing over 1 million images. Images are grouped into collections and represent the canon of art history (as defined by major art history survey texts) as well as specialized collections such as the MoMA Architecture and Design Collection and the Huntington Archive of Asian Art.