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History 200 (Prof. Katherine Smith): Primary Sources

Research strategies and resources for students in History 200

Archives & Special Collections Hours

Spring 2020 update:

The Archives & Special Collections is currently unable to host in-person researchers. If you need assistance or would like to set up a virtual appointment, please email us at

A small selection of digitized material from the Archives & Special Collections is available online 24/7.

Visiting the Archives & Special Collections

In addition to open hours, the Archives & Special Collections are available by appointment.  A few things to be aware of when visiting the Archives & Special Collections:

  • Materials in the Archives & Special Collections do not circulate.  They are available for use only in the Archives & Special Collections.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the Archives & Special Collections.
  • Pencil only, no pens.  We have pencils available if you forget to bring one.
  • Laptops are permitted.
  • Phones and cameras may be used with the permission of the Archivist.

Medieval Manuscripts Online

The Digital Scriptorium holds digital images of medieval manuscripts from libraries throughout the United States.

TPEN allows scholars at all levels to view and transcribe medieval manuscripts.  You will need to set up an account to view the manuscripts, transcribe or view others transcriptions.

Library of Congress Subject Headings for Primary Sources

Books in Primo are assigned Library of Congress Subject Headings.  In many ways, subject headings are a form of tagging, in that they represent the content of the material and provide ways for you to efficiently locate more materials that are conceptually related. 

Library of Congress Subject Headings are also quite useful for discovering primary sources. The following subheadings usually are added to indicate that the material is a primary source: sources, personal narratives, correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, or notebooks.  Once you've discovered the subject heading for secondary sources, try adding one of the primary source subheadings to see what you find.  Here are some examples:

Secondary source subject heading: Latin letters, Medieval
Primary source subject heading:  Latin letters, Medieval -- Correspondence

Secondary source subject heading: Women -- Europe -- History -- Middle Ages, 500-1500.
Primary source subject heading: Women -- Europe --  History -- Middle Ages, 500-1500 -- Sources.

Secondary source subject heading:  Monasticism and religious orders -- History -- Middle Ages, 600-1500
Primary source subject heading: Monasticism and religious orders -- History -- Middle Ages, 600-1500 -- Sources

When you know the author of the texts you are seeking, simply do an author search in Puget Sound WorldCat.  Note that for very common names, you may need to provide additional information:

Patrick, Saint, 373?-463?

Gregory, Saint, Bishop of Tours



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Primary Source Collections--Early Modern

Primary Source Collections--Medieval