History 321

History of U.S.-Japan Relations
Professor: Eiko Maruko Siniawer
Spring 2021

Finding Primary Sources in Library Catalogs

Use these search strategies in the library catalog, Williams WorldCat, and HathiTrust Digital Library.

Search by Title

To search by title, you need to have a known title in mind. Mine the footnotes and bibliographies of class readings and secondary sources 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 in the library catalog. Choose Author and enter the name (last name first) of the person.

Papers of a governing body or an organization can also be searched as an author

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 item is a primary source include:

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

Sources: collections of contemporary writings

Interviews

Correspondence

Pictorial Works

Motion pictures and Documentary films
Be sure to limit search by audio visual format to narrow to the actual films instead of books about films.

Search by Keywords

Using the Advanced Search screen you can combine your topic with the subdivisions mentioned above. Choose to search in the subject field to make the searches more precise. Note: "sources" will also bring up reference sources.

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 in the library catalog 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.