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History : Finding Primary Sources

This guide is intended for all those studying history and related disciplines.

Finding Primary Sources

Primary sources can be found in a variety of places, both in person and online, from the NSC Library to museums and the internet. More information on where and how to find primary sources is provided below. Remember, whether a source is primary or secondary is often determined by how you intend to use it. For an overview of source types, visit Primary & Secondary Sources and Primary Source Types.

Search & Find

A great place to find primary sources materials, especially books and ebooks, is the NSC Library Search & Find tool. With over one million ebooks and access to materials from our partner libraries at CSN and UNLV, Search & Find is a great place to start your research. For items not available through the NSC Library, you can submit a request through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

► Make sure you sign in with your NSHE ID and password to get full access and the most results!

The Internet

Beyond the digital collections and websites listed here, a Google search for "primary sources" on any topic will bring back thousands and thousand of results. You can find links to additional museums, archives, and libraries, original Twitter or Facebook posts, and and an infinite amount of images.

The challenge is to make sure that the sources you find and choose to use in your research are reputable and relevant for your assignment. Make sure you evaluate and ethically cite your sources, no matter where you find them!

Screenshot of Google Search for "Primary Sources"

For more information, visit Evaluating Sources and the Citation Guide.

Finding Primary Sources on the Web by the Reference and User Services Association is also a great place to find more information on finding primary sources on the Internet, including their guide, Primary Sources for United States History.

Library Databases

Academic or library databases bring together a collection of materials and provide a vast amount of primary sources. Some specialize in primary source materials, such as historical newspapers or magazines. Scholarly articles from these databases may also be helpful depending on your research question.

Some recommended databases for primary source materials to get you started are:

Museums, Archives, & Libraries

Museums, archives, and other libraries are excellent places to find primary source materials, especially three-dimensional artifacts, images, manuscripts, and other original materials. Many museums, archives, and libraries also have digital collections of their materials that can be accessed online. 

Some museums, archives, and libraries you may find helpful are: