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The notes and bibliographies of secondary sources are a great place to find citations for primary sources. With a citation you can locate a published primary source in Vassar Library's catalog or request it though InterLibrary Loan. Always ask a librarian for help if you can't locate a source you have a citation for.
This database includes citations and abstracts for articles in scholarly journals about American History. Vassar does not have every article and book included here (although we have many), but you can request items through InterLibrary Loan.
Identify what other library owns a title you want. Request it through InterLibrary Loan. Lending libraries generally will not send microfilm reels or other items in a series, such as an entire issue of a periodical. Ask a librarian if you have questions about InterLibrary Loan.
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What types of primary sources might be illustrative for my research questions? Some options to consider are:
Personal narrative sources - Diaries, letters, memoirs
Media sources - Newspapers, magazines (aka periodicals) Remember to seek out alternative press as well as mainstream publications.
Organizations' sources - Identify associations or groups that addressed issues related to your research topic. Organizations often have primary sources such as meeting minutes, member correspondence, publicity materials (posters, pamplets, magazines)
Government and legal sources - Court cases, Congressional Record, state and federal departments and agencies
Searching for Primary Sources in the Library Catalog
Try Author and Subject searches for prominent people, organizations or movements
Identify the Library of Congress Subject Headings associated with your topic. They are effective keywords and browsing Subject Headings will lead you to sources you could otherwise overlook.
These keywords are Library of Congress Subject Heading vocabulary indicating primary sources:sources, letters, interviews, speeches, personal narratives, diaries, correspondence, sermons, notebooks, sketches, description and travel, treaties, pamphlets, biography (includes memoirs), newspapers, periodicals, pictorial works, art, architecture, portraits, caricatures and cartoons, cookery, decorative arts, furniture, material culture, guide books, maps, fiction, poetry, periodicals, newspapers, bibliography
Archives and Special Collections
If you are interested in working with archival material, you may choose to use sources from our Archives and Special Collections library. In addition to the Archives of Vassar College, this Library also contains material of general interest and significance to United States women's history after 1890.