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Understanding Primary Sources - Maple Woods

Finding Primary Sources in the Library Databases

MCC Libraries subscribe to a large selection of databases across many disciplines. To search databases for electronic versions of primary documents, visit our history databases. 

CAUTION: Some databases contain both primary and secondary source content. Always pay attention to when and by whom a document was written to distinguish primary sources.

Some Major Published Series of Primary Sources

Below are some examples of primary sources available from the MCC Libraries:

Finding Primary Sources in the Catalog

This video will give a quick demonstration of several tricks to help you locate primary sources in the library catalog.

  1. Click on "advanced search" on the right side of the main search bar.
  2. In the first box type in your topic or subject- for example: Vietnam War.
  3. In the second box type "primary sources."

For  a MOBIUS search - click the "search MOBIUS" tab

  1. Click "Advanced Search."  Your search terms should still be in place.
  2. Click "Add Boolean" and select "OR."
  3. Add the additional keywords such as diaries, manuscripts, journals. You will need to add a Boolean "OR" for each keyword.

Maple Woods Library Catalog

Search MCC-Maple Woods Library Catalog


MOBIUS Catalog Search

Can't find what you're looking for? Search and request materials from MOBIUS member libraries across the region.

Finding Primary Sources Online

Many universities, government agencies, and historical associations provide digital libraries of primary sources on the Internet. Ask your professor to confirm, but websites like these are usually allowed.

Search for more digital collections with Google Advanced Search (see the tutorial video on this page).


If you are researching a certain city, state, or region, look for major digital collections created by that city or state.

  • Try web searches for a city or state digital library, such as "Illinois digital library" or "Chicago digital library."
  • Search for the state library and archives commission (for instance, "Texas State Library and Archives") to look for major state-wide digitization initiatives.
  • Identify major universities in the area (for instance, the University of Houston if you're studying the greater Houston area) and check out those university websites to look for digital collections that might be helpful (tip: start at their library's page and look for phrases like "digital collections"!) . 

Episode 3: Finding Primary Source Collections with Google Advanced Search