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English 265 - 001: Literature and Race, Literature and Ethnicity (Prof. Heidi Kim)  

Last Updated: Jan 15, 2013 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

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Locating Primary Documents

Generally speaking, Primary Source Documents represent artifacts from the time of an "historical event."  This might be in the form of contemporary newspaper or magazine accounts, legislation of the time, personal correspondence or memoirs of participants,  etc.  Often, when searching the Catalog for primary documents, the Library of Congress Subject Headings will have subdivisions indicating primary source materials.  Examples of these subdivisions would include: Sources, Diaries, Interviews, Correspondence, Personal Narratives, Archival Resources, etc.  Also remember that a scholarly secondary source (e.g., book or article) on your topic may well cite primary souces documents.  Sometimes, this is the easiest way into the primary documents -- where a scholar has already done much of the legwork for you.  One example of this for Morrison's A Mercy might be: How America's first settlers invented chattel slavery : dehumanizing native Americans and Africans with language, laws, guns, and religion. Davis Library (4th floor) & Undergrad Library E441 .O765 2004.   Documentary Histories often reproduce primary historical documents that might well be rare and inaccessible.

For more detailed guidance, see  Finding Primary Source Documents

Potentially Useful Library of Congress Subject Headings

Hansberry, Lorraine, 1930-1965. Raisin in the sun -- Sources.

African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.

African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.

Jews, East European -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- Sources.

Jewish refugees -- United States -- Correspondence.

Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States -- History and criticism.

Symbionese Liberation Army.

Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- Sources.

Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945 -- Sources.

Dominican Republic -- Emigration and immigration.

Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- New York.

Slavery -- United States -- History -- Sources.

Women's rights -- United States -- History -- Sources.

Women -- United States -- History -- Sources.


Newspapers & Magazines

Use these databases to identify contemporary articles on your topic from newspapers, magazines.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers

This database includes 11 digitized historical newspapers, including the New York Times, L.A. Times, etc.  To search for contemporary articles first determine the date of your "event" or topic (e.g., Housing and Desegregation in Chicago).

Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890 - ca.1982)

Readers' Guide Retro. is an important index to popular magazines for the period indicated, e.g. The Atlantic Monthy, The Nation.  However, many on these magazines have Not yet been digitized and may only exist in print (most of which the Library holds). Bound print journals (in Davis Library) are given a call number just like a book, then arranged by volume/year.  First try your search, e.g. Jewish refugees fleeing Europe.  From the article citation, select the Find@UNC icon.  If the article happens to be full text (unlikely), select it.  If not full text, then select the Look for this in print in the UNC Liraries link.If we have the magazine for this particular date & issue, you should get a library location and call number for the magazine/journal.  If this fails, also search the catalog (below) for a Journal Title search (pull down menu) to double check.

Academic Search Complete (ca. 1975 - present)
Try this database for articles since approximately 1975. This links to much full text and indexes a mix of popular magazines & scholarly journals.


 America's News
Amerca's News iincludes the complete electronic editions of 827 newspapers -- dates vary from 1980s/90s to the present.


UNC catalog search with Links (search opens in new window)


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