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U.S. Women's & Family History: Find Primary Sources

A research guide to the history of women and family in America.

Finding Primary Sources

Remember that primary sources are first-hand accounts during a particular time period, often recorded by participants or observers. Types of primary sources include:

  • Written material such as diaries, journals, letters, speeches, manuscripts, notes, autobiographies, and memoirs.
  • Published items such as research reports or surveys, which report on contemporary events
  • Photographs, films, videos, news broadcasts and transcripts, audio recordings, etc.
  • Physical artifacts, such as art objects, costumes, buildings, maps, monuments, etc.
  • Governmental and organizational information, such as statistics, reports, press releases, propaganda, records, surveys, correspondence, publications, etc.
  • Materials which provide a sociological or psychological snapshot of a certain time period, such as public opinion polls or other expressions of popular culture such as television shows, movies, music, best-sellers, advertisements, etc.

How do I Search in the Myrin Catalog for Primary Sources?

Keyword Searching

For primary sources, these terms can be useful:

  • "sources"
  • "description and travel"
  • "charters, grants, privileges"
  • "periodicals"
  • "correspondence"
  • "personal narratives"
  • "facsimiles"
  • "early works to 1800"
  • "interviews"
  • "pamphlets"


Try entering terms your terms along with words like "correspondence," "diary" or
"diaries," "records" and "documents," "sources," "papers," “interviews,” and "letters".
Example: women and work and interviews.

When you find a record that you like, check the SUBJECT HEADINGS. If you find a phrase that looks particularly interesting there, click it to see if there are other works that have the same subject heading.

Online Primary Sources:

Primary Sources by Topic

Going Solo, Jean Renvoize, 1985, 2nd Floor, Call #306.856R298
    -In this text, thirty-one mothers and mothers-to-be comment on their experiences as single mothers and use their stories for the author’s study.

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