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HIS 441 & 495, Prof. DeCesare: Finding Primary Sources

This is a guide to assist students in Prof. DeCesare's History Capstone sequence.

General

This list presents a selection of archives in Rhode Island.  Many public libraries or towns may also have archival collections related to local history.  If you know of an archive in RI that you think should be added to the list please send us an e-mail.

General Web Resources

Personal Journals, Letters, and Memoirs

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: Use the Advanced Search in the catalog and combine these terms with your topics. For example, civil war and personal narratives. You can edit the searches below to reflect your own interests by replacing the provided search terms with your own.

Newspaper & Magazine Articles

Note: newspapers are a little tricky -- you need to know the dates of appropriate articles, and you need to be able to access the newspapers, whether they're in print, online, or microfilm.

To find newspaper articles, think about the time frame you're researching, and perhaps the geographic location. For example: 1940s New York, or London during World War I. Larger newspapers are more likely to have indexes. For smaller papers, check libraries in the geographic area, as many will have local history resources.

Sometimes, you can just browse newspapers around particular dates or events. If you're searching for a topic in a newspaper, you'll need to use an appropriate newspaper index to find citations to relevant articles. Below are a few examples.

Finding Pre-1983 Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin Articles

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