Skip to Main Content

United States History: Definitions, Published Collections, & More

What is a primary source?

Primary sources include documents or artifacts created by a witness to or participant in an event.  They can be firsthand testimony or evidence created during the time period that you are studying. 

Primary sources
 may include diaries, letters, photographs, newspaper articles, government documents, poems, novels, plays, and music.  The collection and analysis of primary sources is central to historical research.

Search Terms for Primary Sources

Terms useful for locating primary sources in the UW Libraries Catalog:

  • sources
  • personal narratives
  • correspondence
  • letters
  • diaries
  • journals
  • interviews
  • sermons
  • documents
  • papers

General Collections for U.S. History

UW Libraries Search

UW Libraries Search

UW Libraries Search logo  

Advanced Search | FAQ | Known Issues

Search Tips to locate letters, diaries, etc.

To locate resources written during a specific time period, collections of correspondence, memoirs, government documents, etc. start with a search in the UW Libraries Catalog.  After searching, you can change the drop down box from Articles, Books, and More to UW Tacoma Library to see what is immediately available on this campus.

Combine words from the list at left with place names, personal names, years, etc.

Sample Searches: 

  • adams and letters
  • washington and papers
  • 1812 and sources