Skip to main content
Milne Library SUNY Geneseo Subject Guides


HIST 391 Politics of Food -- Professor Kleiman: Advice on Searching Databases

Advice on using IDS Search to find gov docs

 

Advice on Searching for Primary Sources

You will get limited results if you try to search for "primary sources" in library databases since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching these subject headings instead:

sources
personal narratives
documents
speeches
memoirs or autobiographies
diaries

letters or correspondences
oral histories

SOME ADVICE ON AUTOBIOGRAPHIES:  You will get limited results searching for the word "autobiography" since the Library of Congress does not use that subject heading.  Try searching for "biography" but then look to make sure that the author is also listed as a subject. That is your clue that the person is writing about him or herself, and that is a primary source.

DOCUMENTARY HISTORIES:  There are collections of documents relating to various subjects, such as Agriculture in the United States: A Documentary History.  Search IDS for these by typing your subject along with the phrase "documentary history" in quotes. 

DOCUMENTARY FILMS:  Be wary of "documentaries" (films) because sometimes they are primary sources but often they provide analysis that is secondary.

PUBLICATION DATES:  Be aware that publication dates can be misleading. A book could have been written in 1952 but republished with a 20013 publication date; this is still a primary.