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Primary Sources: Primary Sources @ VU

Primary sources can be a bit confusing. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand primary sources and where and how to find them.

Primary Sources in VANCAT

On the library homepage, underneath the library catalog (VANCAT) search box, select  Advanced Search. Perform either a keyword or subject search - screenshot below with some tips:

**The following is a list of Library of Congress subject headings that will help you locate primary sources in VANCAT:

  • correspondence (use this when searching for letters)
  • diaries (first hand accounts documenting the historical period)
  • "early works to 1800" (pre-1800 works)
  • interviews (transcripts of an interview)
  • pamphlets (brief work tackling a specific issue at the time it was published)
  • "personal narratives" (first hand accounts)
  • speeches (transcript of speeches)


Primary Sources in Databases

The library provides access to various databases with primary sources. 

Search the following databases for primary sources in the arts and humanities:

Looking for primary sources in the natural and social sciences?


Or, try using keywords like surveystatisticscase studies, empirical studies, etc... in the following databases:

The following databases have a methodology filter - narrow down search results by research type, such as clinical case study, empirical study, field study, etc... :

Academic Search Premier (EBSCO) has a primary source filter. Under Publication Type select Primary Source Document. The database will only retrieve primary source items. 


Outside Resources


Have a research question?

So many options!

  • Call 714-966-6382
  • In Person at the Research Help Desk or a Librarian's Office
  • Submit your question for an email reply (click on Ask-A-Librarian image above)
  • Instant message                            with LibChat (below)