Skip to Main Content

Finding Primary Sources: Home

This guide will give you tips for finding primary sources.

Getting Started

What's Your Purpose?

The trick to finding primary sources is realizing that there is usually not a one-stop shop for primary sources. You really need to know what you are looking for because this can dictate where you search. Some questions to consider:

  • Are you looking for a specific type of primary source (diary, newspaper, piece of legislation, photographs, speeches, etc)
  • Are you looking for a sources from a specific time period? (Civil War, Women's Suffrage Movement, World War II, etc)
  • Are you looking for sources from a specific place? (Utah State University, American West, France) 
  • Are you looking for sources about a specific group? (LDS Church, Cherokee Indians, Suffragists, World War II Veterans)

It's also important to realize that you might have to search in multiple locations for sources. A good starting place for finding primary sources relating to USU, Utah, LDS and American West history is USU's Primary Source Resource list. 

Finding Primary Sources

USU Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) is home to items that tell the story of the history of Utah, Mormonism and the Western region of the United States. SCA also includes the archives of Utah State University and the Fife Folklore Collection. To search their collection, use the drop-down menu to limit your results to "Special Collection and Archives" in the library catalog. 


For more help finding primary source materials in the SCA visit the Finding Materials in SCA guide


Tips for Searching for Primary Sources

  • USE KEYWORDS: Many databases do not have a "primary source" filter but you can add keywords to your search. Try pairing the event, group, time period you are searching + with the type(s) of primary sources you are looking for. For example: Women suffragists AND diaries OR speeches OR oral histories OR photographs OR newspapers OR scrapbooks OR documents. 
  • SEARCH LOCAL: This doesn't necessarily mean local to you but local to your topic - search archives, newspapers, museums, government agencies, etc local to your topic! 


Primary Source Repositories