What is a primary source?

Primary sources come in a wide variety of formats, but they all have one thing in common: they are original, unfiltered sources that describe people, places and events. While museums, archives, and libraries preserve primary sources in their original form, reproductions may be widely available and accessible in a variety of formats including print books, digital archives, websites, and microfilm.

Primary Sources in the Library's Collection and Elsewhere

Use the Library's catalog and WorldCat to discover primary sources related to your topic. Visit the history subject guide for advice on finding primary sources in the catalog or contact your librarian for assistance. Looking for newspaper and magazine archives? Go to the Newspapers & Magazines section of this guide.

Falvey Library Catalog
The Library's catalog enables patrons to search & browse Falvey Library’s collection of books, journals, audio/video materials, electronic resources and more.

WorldCat (FirstSearch)
Presents a combined catalog of the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide. WorldCat highlights publications available at Villanova University. Other items can be requested via an inter-library loan request form.

Selected Digital Archives

The Library has primary sources suitable for a wide variety of topics in print and digital formats. Consult with a librarian to familiarize yourself with available archives that match your topic. Below is a small selection of available digital archives.

  China, America and the Pacific: Trade & Cultural Exchange (Adam Matthew Digital)

  China: Trade, Politics & Culture, 1793-1980 (Adam Matthew Digital)

  Digital Collections (The Library of Congress)

  Digital Transgender Archive (College of the Holy Cross)

  Gender: Identity and Social Change (Adam Matthew Digital)

  Global Commodities (Adam Matthew Digital)

  Jewish Life in America c1654-1954 (Adam Matthew Digital)

  Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture: The History of Tourism (Adam Matthew Digital)  Tutorial

  LGBT Magazine Archive (ProQuest)

  LGBT Thought and Culture (Alexander Street Press)

  Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975: Rock and Roll, Counterculture, Peace and Protest (Adam Matthew Digital)

  Socialism on Film, 1918-1988 (Adam Matthew Digital)

  Trade Catalogues and the American Home (Adam Matthew Digital)

  World's Fairs: A Global History of Expositions (Adam Matthew Digital)