PSU Library has a large collection of reprinted or microfilmed primary source materials, including the collected writings of historical figures, government documents, diaries, collections of speeches, etc. The best way to find primary sources in the library catalog is with subject headings. You may have to try several searches, but one strategy is to combine a keyword for your topic with a subject heading for a material type (see list at right).
Primary sources enable the historical researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. A primary source reflects the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Here are some examples of primary sources:
Image credit: Electoral Vote Tally for the 1860 Presidential Election, 1861 (page 1 of 3) by The U.S. National Archives, via Flickr
Subject headings are a formalized way of of searching library catalogs. The right subect heading can help you get to information more quickly.
For example, the American Revolutionary War can be described using the following terms:
You could search the library catalog for all those keywords. Or, use one subject heading to find all of the library's materials about the the American Revolutionary War:
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783
Searching for primary source materials by author
Materials written by a person (or an organization) are considered primary sources for research on that person. Search the catalog for a historical person's name, and then click on their name to find everything they have written.
Who determines subject headings? The Library of Congress. Copies of the complete set of the Library of Congress Subject Headings are available at the Reference Desk.