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History: Primary Resources

A guide dedicated to primary resources related to United States and international history.

Titles on Conducting Historical Research

Print Titles of Interest

Find Books at Whittemore Library

The Whittemore Library is a member of the Minuteman Library Network.  You can search for primary sources in Whittemore Library or you may search the collections of libraries from the entire network.  With a Minuteman library card, you are able to request books from any Minuteman library and may have them sent to Whittemore or any other member library for your convenience.  Some primary source materials may be fragile and valuable, and therefore ineligible for interlibrary loan.  You may need to visit a library, museum or historical society to view a primary resource, but the trip may well be worth it!

Online catalog search strategies

A keyword search is a great place to begin to find primary source materials. Think of words or phrases that relate to your topic. Use these words along with words that describe types of primary sources, such as:

  • diaries
  • correspondence or letters
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • documents
  • archives
  • early works to 1800 (or the date associated with your topic)
  • sources

For example, a keyword search for a a primary source might look like:

  • John Adams and speeches
  • Louisa May Alcott and correspondence
  • Massachusetts and history and sources

You might also search for a historical figure's name in the "author" field of the catalog. A search in the author field will retrieve materials written by that person. For example, you might search for:

  • Roosevelt, Franklin D.
  • Churchill, Winston




Request Books via InterLibrary Loan

Is there a book you need but Whittemore Library and the Minuteman Library Network doesn't have it?  If so, fill out our online interlibrary loan form and let our Inter-library Loan Librarian find it for you.

Find Books in Other Libraries

WorldCat allows you to search for a primary resource beyond FSU and the Minuteman Library Network. For items that are available through interlibrary loan, fill out an interlibrary loan form to have them sent to the Whittemore Library. Items shipped through inter library loan may take up to a few weeks to arrive at FSU. Be sure to leave enough time in your research process to receive such materials. Remember that some primary resource materials may be fragile and valuable, and therefore ineligible for interlibrary loan. You may need to visit the institution that owns the primary resource in order to view it.

Online Encyclopedia

Contemporary Sources: 17th - early 20th century