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Primary Sources: What Are Primary Sources? How Do I Find Them?

Web sites and repositories for primary sources.

Self Help/Tutorials on Primary Sources

Searching primary source collections & archives

Searching for primary sources in massive online collections and archives can seem daunting, but there is information out there to make your searches easier. The trick is knowing how to find that information. Though each collection is different, in most reputable online collections and archives, you will find resources to help you understand which search techniques will yield the best results in one of the following tabs, links or buttons on a given collection's homepage:

  • Help
  • About
  • FAQs
  • Contact Us
  • Support
  • Customer Service
  • etc

These resources are usually positioned around the edges of the homepage, in menus at the top, bottom, left- or right-hand sides.

For example, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers from the Library of Congress archives has a Help link on the left, an Ask a Librarian button at the top, a Contact Us link and another Ask a Librarian link at the bottom, and an About link at the bottom which gives detailed information on the Library of Congress.

The National Archives and Records Administration has Contact Us links at the top and bottom of its site with places to enter your questions and a link to "Researcher Information" to help you get started, as well as a FAQ link at the bottom with details on searching both generally and in specific subject areas.

Keep an eye out for these kinds of useful resources in all of the collections in our Primary Sources guide.