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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

World History: Find Primary Sources

Help choosing a topic and finding primary and secondary sources for world history topics.

Library Catalog

What time period are you researching? Choose a tab below:

Try these methods for finding primary sources in ancient history.

Option 1: Find authors from the time period:

Step 1: Identify a historical figure from the ancient world.

Step 2: Search the person as an author in the library catalog to find documents that they wrote.


Option 2: Search or browse a digital collection (it helps to have a historical figure in mind--see Option 1).


Option 3: Search for images, art, or antiquities from ancient history.

Try these methods for finding primary sources from the middle ages.

Option 1: Find an author from the time period

Step 1: Use this resource to identify a major historical figure:


Step 2: Search the person as an author in the library catalog to find documents that they wrote.

 

Option 2: Search or browse a digital collection 

Step 1: Find a historical event or figure to help you focus your searching.  Keep in mind that the primary sources are not written in modern English, so you may have to experiment with your search terms.

Step 2: Search your historical figure or event in one of these digital collections. You may also browse if you are feeling adventurous.

Try these methods for finding primary sources.

Option 1: Search or browse a digital collection 

 

Option 2: Find authors from the time period

Step 1: Identify a historical figure from the ancient world.

Step 2: Conduct an author search in the Library Catalog to find documents written by your historical figure:

 

Option 3: Search for images, art, or antiquities from ancient history.

Try these methods for finding primary sources:

Option 1: Search or browse a digital collection: 


Option 2: Find authors from the time period

Step 1: Identify a historical figure from the time period:

Step 2: Search the person as an author in the Library Catalog to find documents that they wrote:


Option 3: Search for images, art, or antiquities from ancient history:

Newspapers & Periodicals

 

Other Primary Source Collections

Examples of Primary Sources/Suggested Search Terms

Letters 

Search Term: Correspondence

An 1864 Letter from WCU Special Collections.

Diaries & Journals

Search Terms: Diaries or Personal Narratives

Diary entry.

Original Reporting (News)

 

Front page of a 1943 Sylva Herald Issue.

Interviews and Oral Histories

Search Terms: interviews or anecdotes

Person Interviewing another on front porch.

Maps

 

Map of Jackson County.

Photos and Images

Search Terms: pictorial works or portraits

Photograph of a couple by a car from WCU Special Collections.

Legal Documents, Acts, Cases, Hearings

First Page, Acts of Assembly of the State of North Carolina, 1777 from the State Library of NC.

Good Place to Start

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are original material from the time of the topic under investigation. Often, these are accounts by someone who experienced the event first-hand (Turabian Manual, 8th edition). In contrast, a secondary source includes analysis of primary sources.