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Finding primary source documents in books

Search the online library catalog for your topic, then try adding one of the following words to your search to find collections of primary sources:

"documents," "sources," "letters," or "diaries"

e.g., "Korean War AND Sources" or "Civil War AND Diaries"

Don't forget to change the "Held By" selection to Libraries Worldwide to find books you might be able to obtain through interlibrary loan.

Book Locating Tools

Library of Congress Subject Headings

One way to find more books on your topic is to follow the subject headings of a book you have found to be appropriate for your topic. The Library of Congress Subject Headings is list of subjects that this library uses to categorize books on a particular topic.

For example, let's say you found a good book on your topic "nurses serving in the Vietnam War." That book's record in the library catalog has the Subjects:

  • Vietnam War (1961-1975)
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Medical care
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Personal narratives, American
  • Nurses Vietnam Biography

You can click on any of these similar subjects to find out what other books are available on these subjects. And even though they are related topics, each one of these may have a different list of books with that subject heading, so look at more than one of the subjects to get the best results.