Searches including the term 'primary' will usually return an unsatisfactory result set. This is because it is actually difficult to label an item as primary--what it is varies with the need of the researcher and the situation in which the item was created. This example uses articles published about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
"San Francisco Doomed"fromThe Oakland Tribune, April 18, 1906 is from the time of the event and would be primary source material for historical research on this event and its aftermath.
"Frisco Quake Remembered" fromThe Birmingham Postand dated April 19, 2006 is secondary if you are researching the 1906 quake. BUT it could be considered primary if you are researching the perception of this event after a period of time (how has memory affected history?), rather than the event itself.
A well-done site that discusses finding primary sources on the web, providing examples and a selection of sites is "Using Primary Sources on the Web". This is brought to you by the members of the the American Library Association's Reference & Users Service Association/History Section.
Finding a primary source in the Library Catalog
A search on your topic or person in the CSUSM library catalog (or other library catalogs) can reveal a number of primary sources in the collection. Keyword searches that include the following terms will retrieve possible primary materials:
Diar* (for diary or diaries)
Correspondence (this is a LoC subject heading subdivision)
Personal narrative (this is a LoC subject heading subdivision)
Some things to watch out for when searching a library catalog:
Searching on apersonal name. If the catalog uses Library of Congress subject headings, there will be a consistent version used in the subject headings, but additional notes may be added to provide access through common alternatives, spellings, or nicknames. (e.g., Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens)
Subject headingswill use one approved phrase for a topic, but if the subject heading has been updated (very rare), you may need to use older phrasing in your subject search. This is most likely to happen if you are using a print index (the drawers of cards) rather than an electronic index.
There are other tricks to try, contact your librarian for more help
CSUSM Primary Source Collections
See also the Newspapers tab for newspaper collections that serve as primary sources.
For most of the twentieth century, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was the principal defender of the rights that citizens can assert against their government. Its primary aims have been the defense of the freedoms of speech and press, the separation of church and state, the free exercise of religion, due process of law, equal protection of the law, and the privacy rights of all citizens.
A set of collections of digital documents representing American history and the growth of the nation (American State Papers, U.S. Congressional Serial Set and its maps, and a collection of Hispanic American Newspapers. Search all collections at one time,
The largest single collection of printed source material relating to the history, literature, and culture of the first 250 years of what is now the United States, Early American Imprints provides free access to nearly two-thirds of all books, pamphlets, and broadsides known to have been printed in this country between 1640 and 1821.
A collection of primary sources for the historical study of sex, sexuality, and gender with material dating back to the sixteenth century. Covers changing sexual norms, health and hygiene, the development of sex education, the rise of sexology, changing gender roles, social movements and activism, erotica, and many other topics.
Over 300 years of legal primary sources, such as early U.S. state and municipal codes, significant constitutional conventions and debates, compilations, legal dictionaries, and materials from the American Colonial period. Note codes are subject-based and experienced continual revision, rather than being issued each year.
Trial transcripts and commentary from the US, England, the British Commonwealth and some additional nations. Covers topics including: adultery, commerce, criminal, constitutional law, domestic relations, elections, impeachment, international law, land, libel, military offenses, murder, slavery, and treason.
Commentary on legal proceedings from Anglo-American sources including:casebooks, practice manuals, pamphlets, letters, and speeches. Topics include domestic and international law, legal history, business and economics, politics and government, national defense, criminology, religion, education, labor and social welfare, and military justice.
A compilation of archival collections covering a wide range of fringe political movements. It offers a diverse mixture of materials, including periodicals, campaign propaganda, government records, oral histories, and various ephemera.
Materials published between 1500 to the early 1900s about the Americas published throughout the world on exploration, trade, colonialism, slavery and abolition, the western movement, Native Americans, military actions and much more.
The Statistical Abstract of the United States (online edition) by Proquest is a one-volume, comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Use the Abstract as a convenient volume for statistical reference, and as a guide to sources of more information both in print and on the Web.
Business, legislation, debates and other activity of the from the beginning of the U.S. Congress on an extensive variety of topics including taxation, Native Americans, wars and elections. This digital collection is the equivalent of approximately 13,800
Primary Sources on the Internet
This is a sampling of the wide range of primary source collections found on the internet with free access. For help finding what you need, contact the librarian.
"Hear the story of the Japanese American incarceration experience from those who lived it, and find thousands of historic photographs, documents, newspapers, letters and other primary source materials from immigration to the WWII incarceration and its aftermath."