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Martha S. Grafton Library

Primary Sources: Finding Sources

A guide to finding and using primary sources.

Finding books

Image copyright Florin Gorgan. Used under the terms of a CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

You have many options when it comes to finding and using books. The Grafton Library Discovery Service (GLDYS), allows you to search for books and ebooks both here at Grafton library and in libraries around the world. If you're just looking for books, make sure to pay attention to the limiters on your search, because GLDYS also allows you to search for articles and video materials. 

Library Searching Tips

Try adding some of these keywords to a search in the Library Catalog or WorldCat.

  • Personal narratives
  • Letters
  • Diary
  • Autobiography
  • Memoir
  • Interview
  • Documents
  • Sources
  • Oral histories

Example:  Malcolm X and memoir

    Where do I find Primary Sources?

    Primary sources documents are found in a variety of locations.  The original physical items such as letters, diaries, financial documents, or photographs are most often found in archives or special collections associated with colleges, universities, museums, or historical societies.  Sometimes it is necessary to make an appointment with the institution and travel there.

    Sometimes these items have collected, annotated, edited and printed for publication. Microfilm of some collections are also available.  Search in GLYDYS (Grafton Library DiscoverY Service) to find these items in our library.  If we don't have the item, you can request it through ILL.  You will find more detailed instructions on how to search for print items on this page.

    Many archives and special collections are conducting ongoing efforts to digitize the items in their collections.  An increasing amount of primary source material is available online.  Use the Online Primary Documents tab to find a curated list of some of the largest online collections.  

    You can always ask a librarian for further assistance.

    Searching for a Specific Person

    To find personal accounts in GLDYS, include keywords such as Autobiography, Diaries, Letters, Personal Correspondance, Memoirs, Personal Narratives, or Interviews in your search.  

    If you want to find works by a specific person, search for the person as a author by using the following steps:

    Select the Advanced Search link below the search box for GLDYS.

    Advanced search link identified

    Then select Author from the dropdown menu and search for the person using the Last Name, First Name format.  

    advanced search screen detail - author selected

    Mary Baldwin Primary Sources

    Mary Baldwin Bluestocking, available online from 1891 to 2009

    College Archives contains materials pertaining to the history of Mary Baldwin College

    Searching for archival material