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Research Guides

HSTRY 288/HSTCMP 290: The Global History of Human Rights: Primary Sources: Books

   Book covers containing primary sources dealing with human rights & genocide 

One of the more easily accessible primary sources are books. These can be books written during the period for your topic (i.e., during the 1950s), books written by participants, published collections of correspondence and other personal writings, memoirs and reprints of primary source material. In addition we have digital access to books going back to the late 15th century.

UW Libraries Search and other tools can be used to find these primary sources which may be available in print, online and in microfilm. 

This page focuses on finding primary sources in book format. Use the resources listed under the other Primary Source tabs to find other types of material.

Using UW Libraries Search to Find Primary Sources


Advanced Search | FAQ | Known Issues

Use these search tactics to identify published primary sources:

  • Use special subject terms that designate primary sources in conjunction with your topic:
    • personal narratives
    • diaries
    • correspondence
    • interviews
    • sources
      • Example: armenian massacres personal narratives
      • Example: armenian massacres sources
  • Search for books written by key participants and organizations such as Amnesty International
  • Limit your search by publication year. On the Results screen use the "Publication Date" option in the left toolbar.

Using HathiTrust to Find Pre-1924 Books

If you are looking for books published before 1924, check HathiTrust. More than million books (also some magazines and government reports) free of copyright are available full-text and can be downloaded as pdfs. Plus you can search through the entire text to find the information you seek. 

The Advanced Catalog Search provides options to search for specific titles, authors and keywords and to limit your search by fulltext availability (full view only) and publication date.

Current books and books still in copyright are not available full-text but you can usually use the search feature to pinpoint the pages you might need. Then search the UW Libraries to find a copy of the printed book.