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HIST 3560: The Scientific Revolution: 1550-1800: Primary Sources

What's a Primary Source?

Norsk (bokmål)‬: Side fra Kongespeilet.A primary source is any record contemporary to an event or time period.  Primary sources may be written, oral, visual or physical.  They may be intentional (created for posterity) or unintentional. They may be religious writings, literary works, maps, record books, songbooks, artworks, and more.

Primary Sources in the MERLIN Catalog

There are certain words that appear in the subject headings of items in MERLIN that constitute primary sources.  The most important of them is sources, but there are others.

In the simple keyword search box, you can put such words after SU: in order to specify the SUBJECT field.

ex.: medieval and medic* and SU:sources

In the advanced keyword search, you can put your search term(s) in the top box, and in the second box, put the word(s) you're using to locate primary sources in the next box, and change the drop-down menu to Subject:

Keywords that will help you find primary sources:

  • sources
  • early works to 1800
  • 16th century
  • 17th century
  • 18th century
  • correspondence
  • sermons
  • quotations
  • collections

Depending on the period being studied, it can also be helpful to limit your search by publication date.

More keywords identifying primary sources in Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Available via ILL

The Center for Research Libraries in Chicago is a treasure trove of rare primary sources, which they loan to member libraries on generous terms.  Tricks for finding primary sources in MERLIN can also work in CRL's catalog (sample keyword search:. viking* and su:sources).

Sources on this topic are often in languages other than English.

If you locate an item you wish to request, use ILL@MU.

Objects and Manuscripts