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What's in the Library?

1st floor: Reference books, computers, Ask Us! research desk

2nd floor: Archives, government info

3rd floor: Books

4th floor: Newspapers on microfilm, current and back issues of magazines

Every floor also has help desks, a copier, and a printer -- ask anyone for help!

Central Search

Remember, you can ONLY access these resources on UCO campus!

You can always start your search with Central Search.  Remember, this includes all of our books, all of our e-books, and some (but not all) of our journal and newspaper articles.



However, you will be able to do more advanced searching and probably get more specific results by using specialized historical-research databases.  Click on the tabs to the left for those.

Primary Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are original sources created by a participant or observer of an historical event that provide direct evidence or first-hand testimony.  These records either by participants or observers allow the historian to study unfiltered evidence and critically develop an interpretation of the past.

Examples of primary sources:

  • First-hand accounts - speeches, interviews, diaries, autobiographies
  • Accounts or first recorders of an event - newspapers, magazines, journal articles, books and pamphlets written and published during a particular time period.
  • Government documents - documents produced by government agencies, treaties, census records, maps, patents, etc.
  • Ephemera - brochures, pamphlets, posters, advertisements, etc.
  • Creative works produced at the time

Secondary and Tertiary Sources

Secondary sources are interpretations or analyses of primary sources.  An example would be an article about women leaders during the civil rights movement, or a book about the Louisiana Purchase.

Tertiary sources are even further removed from the primary source.  They are works that use secondary sources for information.  Encyclopedias are examples of tertiary sources.

After finding some preliminary background information, think about what sources would serve your research need.

  • What documents would have been created during this event? (Newspaper articles, diaries, government documents, etc.)
  • What kind of information are you seeking?  Are you looking at laws and policy where public information would be important, or are you looking at the topic from the perspective of a participant?
  • There will be multiple participants and interpretations of any event.  From which perspective or lens do you want to direct your research?

Searching the Catalog:

Search the catalog combining the keywords of your topic with these terms: ex. "George Washington" AND correpondence

  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Historiography
  • Interviews
  • Papers
  • Personal Narratives
  • Sources

Also, search library databases for primary sources -- check the Newspaper and Government tabs to the left.

Check the bibliography of any secondary source you find to see if they list primary sources.