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MLANG 280 - Studies in World Lit/Culture - Top/War & Memory 20th Century Europe

What are Primary Sources?

A primary source is anything that has been created by a person who witnessed or experienced an event as a contemporary, such as:

  • letters
  • diaries
  • autobiographies
  • oral histories
  • photographs

Primary sources also include things written, published, or recorded at the time of the event, such as:

  • contemporaneous newspaper articles
  • contemporaneous government documents
  • contemporaneous film footage

Searching for Primary Sources in Search It

Use Search It to look for books containing primary sources. 

Some books will include primary sources like: diaries, letters, journals, manifests, maps, photographs, interviews, and more. 

To locate primary sources add these keywords to your search: 

  • "sources"
  • "documents"
  • "correspondence" or "letters"
  • "personal narratives"
  • "papers"

Additionally, many books will have appendices containing samples of primary sources used by the author.

Primary Sources in Databases

K-State Libraries subscribes to primary source databases. These include films, photographs, and even audio files. Some databases relevant to war and memory include:

Finding Archives and Digital Collections Online

Googling is a great way to find archives and digital collections online. However, sometimes these collections are hidden several levels deep and aren't readily unearthed by Google.

Here are questions to help locate a digital collection or archive:

  • Who cares about this topic? Look for associations and historical societies.
  • Is there a city, town, country associated with your topic? Do they have an archive, library, or museum that might store the collection?
  • Are there associations of survivors or their descendants? Search for the names of communities, military units, camps, or battles.

 

Archives of Primary Source Materials

These online archives provide materials related to the Holocaust prior to and including World War II.

These three sites are focused purely on the Holocaust.

These two sites cover World War II in general will provide the broader context of the Holocaust in France.