First, consider what kinds of primary sources you might need.
|Personal journals, letters, memoirs||
Archives (Personal papers)
Libraries (Databases and archives)
Archives (Individual articles)
Newspaper web sites
From there, plan your approach. Many library catalogs list archival materials, but others include archival materials in a separate area of their web sites. Browse library home pages for links to their "Archives" or "Special Collections" pages. (There is a link to URI's Special Collections on the Home page of this guide, but many local public libraries contain their own archives.)
If you're using a catalog, play around with your search terms. Many tools use a standardized vocabulary to describe items. For example, academic library catalogs like ours use the Subject subheadings "Personal narratives," "Correspondence," and "Diaries" to classify certain types of information. Look at likely results to form further searches. WorldCat uses the same naming conventions, but other sources may use different terms.
One category of primary sources are those written by individuals at the time, describing events during their lives. These include memoirs, journals, diaries, letters, and so on.
Most catalogs (such as our catalog, Brown's JOSIAH catalog, and WorldCat) use standardized terms to describe these kinds of materials, making it easier for researchers to locate them.
Below are terms used and some example searches. To find your own: search the catalog using these terms with your topics. For example, civil war and personal narratives.
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