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History 352: History of Mexico, Past and Present

Written Sources

Keep in mind that certain groups or individuals may not have left a written record due to literacy, economic, or social power barriers. The history of a minority is frequently through the dominant culture lens so look carefully at who actually produced the text.

For a comprehensive list of databases with primary source content, start with the databases on this list:

Beyond the resources in the Primary Sources database list, there are many, many choices for other primary materials. Here is a brief list of possible websites for free educational use with proper citation.

Primary Sources in the Library

You can find primary sources in the library book collection in either collections (frequently called anthologies) or included within secondary source books as illustrations, appendices, or excerpts (quotations from a larger source.) 

Quoted pieces from a larger document are not ideal primary sources, in the event you find a 'piece' of a larger source item in a book, whenever possible go to the original document. Find the information in the footnote or bibliography. If you need help locating the item, of course, ask for help! 

The search video below demonstrates looking for a diary which is one form of primary source. For other types of material that you can use in your search strategy, refer to Primary Source Types for a list of ideas. 

To search for books at CSUSM, choose the Books & More tab on the library website:

Image of library home page with an arrow pointed to the tab Books & More, which you use to search for books in the CSUSM Library

Keywords to Find Primary Sources in the Library

The Library Catalog uses a few types of controlled vocabulary to describe the items we own. Controlled vocabulary is kind of like hashtags - we assign different terms to items which helps us to describe what it is.

When searching for primary sources, you can add these words to your search along with keywords for your topic, event or person.

  • Address
  • Autobiography
  • Correspondence
  • Diary or diaries
  • Interview(s)
  • Letters
  • Oratory
  • Memoir
  • Pamphlets
  • Papers
  • Personal correspondence
  • Personal narrative
  • Sources
  • Speeches
  • Tracts (like pamphlets)