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Michigan State University

HST 486, Sec 001: Honor, Gender, Race and Nation in Latin American History: Identifying Primary Sources

Professor Peter Beattie, Fall 2017

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are usually defined as first-hand accounts of events. They may be published (in books or articles) or unpublished manuscripts. A primary source is an original work, not derived from other sources, and include first-person accounts, such as diaries, letters or interviews, official government records and court records. Novels, stories and other creative works are primary sources as well, as are visual records such as painting or photographs, films, television programs and even advertisements.

Look for primary sources in the MSU Catalog by utlizing the following terms in a Keyword search. For example, primary sources for the Central American revolutions and civil wars may include terms like these in the Subject headings, but start by using them in keyword searches.

description and travel
personal narratives

For example, try using the above terms combined with "revolution*," "coup," "nationalism," etc., and with a place name, like Cuba, Southern Cone or Latin America.

To search for the writings of a literary writer or known figure, search the name as an Author search.

To find information about important figures, use a Subject search.

Use the same strategies when using indexes to find journal articles.

Travel Accounts in the Catalog

Not all first hand accounts will have subject headings that include "Sources": Try these terms:

Discovery and exploration (combine with America, or name of country or region)

Description and travel (combine with name of country or region)

Travel writing

Voyages and travels

Journeys (for individuals)

Travel (for individuals)

Women travelers

Travel Literature Encyclopedia

Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. Edited byJennifer Speake. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003. (3 vols.)
[G465 .L565 Area Studies Reference]

"Leads readers to the individuals who wrote about their travel. . . "

Michigan State University