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English 1310: Introduction to American Literature : Finding Primary Sources

Online Collections

Most of these databases allow you to limit by review, letter to the editor, comic, editorial cartoon, and other various categories. Limiting by "review" and searching for Uncle Tom's Cabin within the database is a quick and easy way to find reviews from the time it was published. You can also limit by date to ensure that you only find contemporary information.

Finding Primary Sources in MERLIN/MOBIUS

  • Search by author or title for something specific.
  • Use the advanced search and limit by date to find materials from a certain period.
  • Include s:sources in a keyword search to find reprints of older materials; e.g., 18th century and s:sources.
  • Include the following terms to find specific types of materials:
    • s:correspondence
    • s:diaries
    • s:interviews
    • s:manuscripts
    • s:personal narratives
    • s:pictorial works
    • s:portraits
    • s:sermons

Original Publication

Uncle Tom's Cabin was originally published serially in the National Era, a newspaper created to advocate against slavery. This publication can be accessed through the American Periodicals Online and C19 databases, as well as in microfilm in Ellis Library's Special Collections. Do a keyword search for Uncle Tom's Cabin, and limit by periodical or publication title, and date.

The first publication occured on June 5, 1851.

To find this in American Periodicals Online:

  • search for "Uncle Tom's Cabin" as a keyword in one box
  • Put "National Era" in the next box, and select Publication Title from the drop-down box.
  • Limit the date to 1851 (you can limit specifically to June 5, 1851, if you like, or search)

If you are looking for parts within the text that include a specific character or concept, just search for that character or term as an additional keyword: i.e. Eliza, "Little Eva."

Finding Reviews and Responses in Databases

In most databases, limiting by document or article type is the best way to find reviews and responses to a particular text in newspapers, magazines, or journals.

Most will allow you to limit to reviews, editorial cartoons, or letters to the edtior. You can also limit by date of publication or historical era to ensure that you are reading reviews that are contemporary to the publication.


  Books Online

Online text collections deliver more detailed results than the library catalogs.