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Researching Native American History

Resources for Books, eBooks, and Digital Collections

Find primary sources

"Primary sources are materials produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under consideration, either as participants or as witnesses."

Quoted from:A Pocket Guide to Writing History, 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007

Examples of primary sources, both print and online, include:

  • Official documents, reports and publications
  • Letters, diaries, memoirs, or published writings
  • Cartoons and advertisements
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Speeches
  • Autobiographies
  • Statistical data
  • Oral or transcribed interviews
  • Artifacts & realia
  • Maps
  • Audio & Visual Materials - Photographs, film & video, digitized collections, sound recordings

Primary Sources:

Materials which have not been interpreted by another person.  Original documents or works of art created at or near the time an event occurred. Primary sources provide first hand accounts of experiences or events. Information is generally presented in its original form, whether it be a work of literature or art, or an account of an event or experience, or original documents or research products such as interviews, speeches, questionnaires, letters, diaries, manuscripts, memoirs, etc. Includes books, periodicals, and web sites.

Secondary Sources:

Secondary sources provide second hand accounts of events.  These sources include materials that have been reported, analyzed, or interpreted by people who do not have firsthand knowledge of an event and may be found in books or periodicals, or on web sites.

American History in Video database

EBSCO databases

To search for primary sources in the EBSCOhost databases including: Academic Search Complete and History Reference Center, type your search terms than select Primary Source Document from the Publication Type menu:

Indigenous Peoples of North America

Try a keyword search on a person or event in history.

Issues & Controversies in History database

After you select the specific issue you are interested in, click on Primary Sources from the menu on the left.

Librarians'  Top Picks:

 

Other collections to try:

To search for primary sources in Reynolds Libraries catalog, try subject terms such as:

  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • sources

Subject term Examples:

  • Thorpe, Jim, - 1887-1953 -- Correspondence
  • Smith, John, - 1500-1631 - Diaries
  • Apache Indians - Interviews
  • Wounded Knee Massacre, S.D., 1890 - Personal Narratives
  • Indians of North American - History - Sources

If the person you are researching has written any books on their views or life (autobiography), try an author search in the catalog.

Author Examples:

  • Chester Nez
  • Geronimo
  • Russell Means