Imagining What Primary Source Exist -- and Where



Tips here.

Reverse Engineer from a Secondary Source in Hand

Footnotes, bibliographies, appendices, even prefaces of scholarly books can be gold mines in your search for primary materials. 

Think Newspapers

 A newspaper article that identifies people, places, incidents, reports, etc. can serve as a primary source -- or offer clues that you can pursue in your searching. 

Don't rely on Google and don't rely on the smattering of "newspaper articles" that might surface in HOLLIS. Harvard offers a wide array of local national and international news sources, both current and historic, and many of these are in our online databases.  Browse here.

Think Visuals

For some topics, visual evidence will exist in the form of footage (news, shorts, documentaries), image collections. Harvard will offer much; Youtube is also a good place to look.

Think Archives and Special Collections

One place to identify primary source troves is  ArchiveGrid (resort your results by summary view for better granularity). WorldCat is another (limit your results to Archival).

Repositories will often work with you to provide scans (sometimes even freely) for materials that aren't already digitized.  Factor time and cost into your equations, of course. ArchiveGrid offers tips for isolating digitized items in your searches there. 

Think Digitized Collections that May Already Exist


Think Local: Historical Associations and Societies

For U.S. topics on cities (e.g., Durango, CO) and communities (e.g. Hudson River), these places can be efficient paths to experts and materials; often a simple Google search will reveal their existence and give you contact information.

Rig Up a Google Advanced Search to Explore

Use Social Media Strategically