Skip to Main Content

History 481 - North American Frontiers 1500-1850

What is a Primary Source?

Constructing a Search

Finding Article Text - Library Catalogue

This guide will walk you through finding the full text of an article, starting from the main library search. 

1. From search results, first make sure what you're interested in is an article. It will be indicated by "Article" before the title - where the green check is in the picture. Then click on the article title, indicated by the red arrow in the image. 

Library catalogue results with a green checkmark pointing to article, and a red arrow next to the article's title. There is a red X next to a book result

2. Click "Available Online", indicated by the red arrow. This will show you the options for accessing the full article. This article has three options - highlighted by the red bracket. Pay attention to the dates listed under the title - you want to pick a source that includes the date of your article. All three options here are fine. Click any of the areas at which the green arrows point (titles and symbols). This will take you to the full article.

NOTE: Sometimes database links will take you to the journal rather than the individual article. If that happens, you can use the citation to find the article. Look at the year, volume and issue in the citation, and use them to navigate to the article for which you're looking.

Catalogue record for Cranes. Red arrow by "available online" and green arrows by the database names

3. Download the article. The download option will look a bit different in different databases. JSTOR, where the below pic is from, has the download button at the top, above the PDF viewer. 

Cranes in a PDF viewer, with a citation + download and save option


Analyze Primary Sources

  1. Meet the document (any primary source). Think about basic characteristics of the document.

  2. Observe its parts. Who created it? When and where is it from?

  3. Try to make sense of it. What information does it tell you? Why was it created? How does it related to historical events?

  4. Use it as historical evidence. How does this support your understanding of an event or topic? How could you use the source?

For suggestions for how to analyze specific types of primary sources, consult the Library of Congress or the National Archives.

Cite Primary Sources