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Guide to history research at Temple University Libraries

Find Printed & Online Primary Sources in the Library Catalog

Many primary-source documents have been reproduced in books commonly held in research libraries. You can use the Catalog search in Library Search to retrieve this material.

Try adding keywords such as CorrespondenceDiariesInterviewsPersonal Narratives, and Sources along with your research topic to identify printed primary sources. You can also filter for these terms under "Genre" to the left of your search results.

When you find a title of interest, such as personal narratives from the first World War, select the hyper-linked subjects in the item record to find additional titles. For example, the heading: World War, 1914-1918--Personal Narratives.

Special Collections at Temple Libraries

Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), Temple University Libraries

Urban Archives

Located on the ground floor of Paley Library, the Urban Archives component of Temple University's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) houses the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and several other important Philadelphia newspaper "clippings collections," as well as a range of archival materials, critical to the study of the late nineteenth and twentieth century history of the Delaware Valley. 

Students looking to find primary source documents on twentieth century Philadelphia are highly encouraged to visit the SCRC.


Blockson Collection

The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection is one of the nation's leading research facilities for the study of the history and culture of people of African descent. This collection of over 500,000 items has materials on the global black experience in all formats. 

The Blockson Collection is location in Sullivan Hall.

Regional Primary Sources

Quick Link to Primary Source Databases

More Options

The following TULibraries' databases and research tools will help users track down both paper and digital archives. The list includes links to digital collections, virtual exhibitions, and finding aids of TULibraries' Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). 

What Are Primary Sources?

"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research" (Source: Using Primary Sources on the Web, a website created by the History Section of the American Library Association designed to help researchers locate, evaluate, and properly cite online primary sources).

Scholars analyze and interpret primary sources in secondary works, particularly scholarly monographs (books) and peer-reviewed journal articles. Secondary sources need not be scholarly, however, and can include popular magazine and newspaper articles, non-academic biographies, textbooks, or websites. Please contact your professor or me if you are having difficulty differentiating between primary and secondary sources. Occasionally you might come across a reference to a "tertiary" source. Tertiary sources are essentially reference works; they list, index, summarize, or in some other way facilitate access to both primary and secondary sources. Examples of tertiary sources in history include Historical Abstracts and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.