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John Adams High School Library Media Center: Find Primary Sources

Locating Primary Sources in Books

  Locating Primary Sources in Books

      How do I find primary sources in books?

  • Often books contain excerpts or entire transcripts of primary source materials. When searching the online catalog, look for subject headings that use the terms "personal narratives" or "sources."  These terms indicate there are primary sources located in a book. 

Below is a partial list of general reference sources that contain primary source documents.

Websites for Primary Sources

The Digital Public Library of America combines the websites of libraries, museums, and archives to provide sources freely to the world.

Thousands of primary source documents bring the past alive and present excellent learning opportunities for the classroom.  Also available are maps, graphs, charts, audio and video sources that span U.S. history.


Primary source sets on a specific topic.  Easy to use PDF's provide historical background information and teaching ideas.

Themed Resources - The best Library of Congress rescources on commonly taught themes.

Browse by Topic - Broad topics conveniently arranged by subject. 



This database allows for the user to search over 10 million pages.

The databases selected for searching offer a combined 1,521,918  documents

Provides access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science, and more.