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University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Finding Primary Sources

The UO Libraries holds specialized, primary source collections on various topics and in various formats.

SCUA Collections

Library Catalogs

A good place to start your search for primary sources is in the UO Library & Summit catalogs.

The UO Libraries belong to the Center for Research Libraries, an international consortium that provides access to unique and unusual collections of library materials international in scope, and comprehensive in disciplines. Use CRL Catalog for quick access to CRL collection info. Use Interlibrary Loan to borrow from CRL, as well as microfilm and other materials.

  • LibrarySearch, UO Libraries Catalog allows you to identify books by topic, title or author and to identify journals and magazines owned by the UO Libraries. If you do not find a pre-1976 book here, look in the card catalog in the Current Periodicals Room. Note: The card catalog only contains cards for author and title entries, not subject.
  • Summit via LibrarySearch puts over 25,000,000 items at your fingertips. Books not owned by the UO Library or not available for check out may be requested by current UO students, faculty and staff through Summit. Summit loans arrive at the Check-out Desk within two to three working days.
  • WorldCat  allows you to search and request books not owned by UO or Summit from other libraries around the U.S. and a few in other countries. Most libraries do not loan out rare books or archival materials, but you may find reprints or microfilm of primary sources that you can borrow through interlibrary loan.

UO LibrarySearch - Find articles, books, and more

LibrarySearch offers a streamlined interface for finding books and other media that combines the collections of UO Libraries and Summit libraries.

UO logo with "LibrarySearch" catalog name

Catalog Search Tips

In order to search a library catalog effectively, it is helpful to know something about Library of Congress Subject Headings. LC Subject Headings (LCSH) are standardized terms developed by the Library of Congress to describe materials listed in library catalogs and to make it easier to arrange them by topic.

LCSH terms are not always the first terms that come to mind. For instance, the LC Subject Heading for World War II is 'World War 1939 1945' and the subject heading for the Salem witch trials is 'trials (witchcraft) Massachusetts Salem'. See the Keyword search strategy below for tips on identifying appropriate LC Subject Headings for your search.

Some of the LCSH subheadings that point to primary sources include:

  • correspondence
  • sources
  • pamphlets
  • diaries
  • early works to 1800
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • speeches

Search by Keyword in the library catalog using various terms for your topic paired with the subheadings listed above. This will identify some of the relevant sources available in the UO Libraries or Summit. Note the LC Subject Headings so you can use them to search by Subject to find more information on the same topic.

Search by Author in the catalog to find the writings of a known author or names of groups or organizations. e.g. Carson, Rachel OR National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Books Available Online

There are a number of institutions and corporations scanning books and putting them up online, but the best place to start is Google Books, which gives full or partial access to numerous books; full-text access is generally restricted to books published before 1930 (though this date changes according to copyright law).