7 Sources for Primary Document Research

Research Guidewriting_fresco

Instead of looking for primary source documents with a random Google Search, start with actual history sites!

What to do:

Let’s say you have the prompt:  “What were the three most significant causes of the Fall of Rome

1. Plan your search.

Before finding primary documents, you need to know WHAT you are looking for. Review a history book to get a general idea of the kind of answer you seek. Make a list of at least 10 keywords you are looking for. Narrow down what exactly you are looking for. Are you looking for a journal, a letter, a picture, a speech, a statistic?

Berkeley has a helpful list that can help you “Know Before You Search.”

Plan: I read in my textbook that the borders were weak. Barbarians came. I read about the moving of the Capital to Constantinople.I read about problems with the emperors, and about nationalism, something about Theodosius.  

“Fall of Rome,” “barbarians,” “Constantinople,” “Theodosius,” “Roman borders,”  “Roman emperors,” “Roman nationalism,” and “Theodosius” are my search terms.

I am hoping to find  a letter that a Roman who lived then wrote describing the problems they were having.

2. Narrow Down, then Search

Click on the most relevant link below. Narrow down from category to subcategory. Use the search feature to type in your pre-planned search terms.

Hint: you can do a search on any website, even if they do not have a search feature, by using the following method.

In the address bar, copy the website up until the subfolder you are interested in.  (Make sure the subfolder does not end with .htm or .html, because that will merely search on the page, not for all related documents.)

Write—  site:http://(website address)/  space (search term).
For example:          site:http://spartacus-educational.com/ barbarians

3. Document Where You Found Your Material

Stay Organized! Scrivener is a good method for organizing research, since in one project there are different areas to file various types of information–chapters or pictures or research links.

Don’t forget to copy the source link BEFORE copying the vital information.  Always copy the link first, paste it on your sources page. (You can format it later, but get that link saved!)

The worst thing a researcher can do is to spend hours finding something, but then not be able to track it down again later, so he is not able to use that evidence.  Back up where you found that vital piece of information.1170824_79172868

The Links

Ancient and Medieval History

I) Global History and Geography: Reading and Documents (Alternately available from Classical Historian). This book is a very nice introduction to the value of primary documents. There are questions at the end of each excerpt, enabling students to consider the source critically. Though it is not an internet source, it provides a necessary and “bite-size” transition to the study of primary source documents.

US History, Uniquely

II) Library of Congress American Memory Timeline in particular is the holder of primary documents from United States history.

World History, including US History

III)  Spartacus Educational exists for the purpose of connecting young readers to primary source information. This site index sorts history by topic or by time period.

IV) Primary Sources by Century—USC LibGuides (many login required, but some are free access)

V) Library Guides at Bowling Green  Early American History, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century

VI) JSTOR.COM There are a lot of historical documents here. You can sign up for a free account and have access to three documents at a time. While these are not all directly primary documents, they quote primary documents and can be a valuable source of books to look for. Often Jstor leads you to Google Books.

VII) Online Books a) Google Books  I have found quotations of otherwise unavailable research in topical studies available in the searchable academic books available through Google Books. Some pages are not-viewable, but often those missing pages can be found if the books has an b) Look Inside feature on Amazon. Sometimes the books are available secondhand at a very reasonable price. c) Gutenberg.org has many digital copies of documents available for free online viewing or download. If the document is in the public domain, it may be found there

These are starting places. The key is to have a direction, key words, a plan.  If you do not prepare yourself before you begin, you will get lost in a swamp and turn up nothing substantial, having wasted your time. Know what you want and see what treasures you find!

 

Here are some other Links to look into

Berkeley’s Library Links

National Archives

How to Use Youtube for Primary Source Info

 

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted in a World God Made

“Why did God make Satan?” Recently, a young Turkish mother posed this question to my husband, the pastor of The Protestant Church of Smyrna. She pointed out that Chaos was in the waters of Genesis 1, and asked, “ Where did that Chaos come from?”  These are...

3D Mona Lisa

I learned today, in this article and some other related research, that a second Mona Lisa painting is suspected of being another side of a 3D experience. If anyone could pull this off, it would be Leonardo DaVinci. I focused my eyes between these two pictures and was...

If Jesus wrote a self-help book (Quora Question)

If Jesus wrote a self-help book, what would it be like? Darlene Bocek· Author, The Last Noel 23 Jan 2021 Let’s look at his parables and find what conclusion can be found. He uses nature as a major element, meaning that the rules that are part of the natural world are,...

Where Is God as the World Rages?

Exodus 3:9 is a strange verse. Where was God, those 400 years that “finally” he heard, finally he saw? Was he busy on the other end of the universe—perhaps evidence that we are not alone, not so very special? Evidence that God needed 400 years to take care of some...

Christian, Decide (Invitation only Serial Novel)

UPDATE: Jan 19, 2021: The first novel, spec mystery: You Shouldn't Have Come, is up and running. We still have some spots left, if you'd like to join... After an unexpected second death, we're moving into some strange twists.... CLICK HERE TO GET INVOLVED Write a...

Download Your Plate of Cookies Today

Thank you to all the WonderLit Authors and Readers who participated in this 2020 Christmas Cookie Recipe exchange. Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men! Note: No calories or carbs in reading this book. --Darlene Bocek