History 137: Primary Source Books

Victorian Britain and the Anglo-Afghan Wars
Professor: Chris Waters
Fall 2020

Library Catalogs Search Strategies

The following strategies can be used in the Williams library catalog and other library catalogs, such Williams WorldCat (a catalog of the holdings of over 10,000 libraries in the U.S. and around the world) and HathiTrust Digital Library.

Search by Title

To search by title, you need to have a known title in mind. See the bibliographies of class readings and other materials you find to identify relevant titles of primary sources. 

Search by Author

Memoirs, speeches, writings, or correspondence of a person can be found by doing a Browse Search by author in the library catalog using the name (last name first) of the person.

Search by Subject

Usually, library catalog records have at least one subject heading describing the general topic of the book, video, or other material. Subject headings can be subdivided to indicate further topical breakdown, geographical location, time period, or the form of the composition. Some of the form subdivisions that indicate the items is a primary source include:

Personal narratives: first person accounts of a particular event or time period

Sources: collections of contemporary writings

Search by Keywords

Using the Advanced Search you can combine your topic with the subdivisions mentioned above. Choose to search in the subject field to make the searches more precise.

Limit by Date

Remember, primary sources were written around the same time as an event or during a particular historical time period. To find contemporary writings, you can do searches by subject and limit to the years in question. A word of caution: this search strategy will not find materials that were reprinted at a later date.

  • Afghan Wars (limited to between 1839 and 1925; Williams WorldCat search)

Digital Collections

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