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:
Sources: collections of documents.
Personal Narratives: first-person accounts.
Biography: subheading most likely to be applied to testimonial literature.
Description and Travel: guidebooks and travel writing.
Pictorial Works: photographs/images.
For other image sources, search for Photography or Art as subjects.
See also our Finding Images guide.
Using the Advanced Search screen you can combine your topic or country of interest with one of the subdivisions above. Choose to search in the subject field to make the searches more precise.
To search by title, you need to have a known title in mind. Bibliographies can help identify relevant titles. See the reference sources part of this guide.
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 and limit to a range of years. A word of caution: this search strategy will not find materials that were reprinted at a later date. Example: