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Primary Sources: Searching Library Catalog

This guide is an introduction to primary sources research.

About Library Catalog

Library Catalog is the library catalog for the Vanderbilt University library system.  To find sources outside Vanderbilt, try searching WorldCat or use an Internet search engine to search the web.

Search Library Catalog for Primary Sources

Library Catalog Logo

When using a library catalog to search for primary sources, you may have to wade through many pages of secondary source material to find primary documents for your project.  Here are some tips to help you locate these documents quickly.

Search By Author

When searching for primary documents on a person, try using the person's name as an Author search (LastName, FirstName).  When correspondence is cataloged, the writer of the letter (your topic) is generally listed as the author of the collection. Example: Warren, Robert Penn.

This same strategy works for organizations, too.  Try using the organization name as the author.  When a person's name forms part of the organization name, list the name as it appears on the company's web site or official documents.  Example: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Important Keywords

Manuscript collections or archives of organizational records often include some of the following keywords in their titles or content descriptions.  By including these words as keywords in a search, you have a better chance of finding collections of historical documents:

archive or archives

Limiting Your Search

You may be able to limit your search to Archival material by using Advanced Search.  Look for a field labeled "material type" or "type" and try selecting one of the following terms:

archives or archival