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

Stalin Digital Archive (Yale University Press)
Provides digital access to a selection of documents from the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History including Stalin's personal papers. Also features the complete Annals of Communism series published by Yale University Press. Scholars can create personalized workspaces, compare documents, save searches and documents, and define tags.

Socialism on Film, 1918-1988 (Adam Matthew Digital)
Presents documentaries, feature films, and newsreels produced by Soviet, Chinese, Vietnamese, Eastern European, British, and Latin American filmmakers. Films in the collection range from the early twentieth century to the 1980s and examine all aspects of socialist life. Sourced from the archives of the British Film Institute, this collection features the films gathered by British communist Stanley Forman. All films were versioned into English for distribution in the West.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online: Parts I&II (Gale)
Offers full text access to nearly every English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom, alongside thousands of works published in the Americas, between 1701 and 1800. Includes travel descriptions of Russia in English and other languages.

Making of the Modern World, Part I, 1450-1850 (Gale)
Provides access to digital copies of books, serials, and various other works of economic literature published between 1450 and 1850. Presents critical primary sources on European economic history including economic theory, imperialism, wealth creation, and trade. Includes travel descriptions of Russia in English and other languages.

Moscow News Digital Archive (East View)
Features the longest running English-language newspaper in Russia, published from 1930 to 2014. Once the mouthpiece of the Communist party, it later advocated for social and political change. The digital archive includes all available issues of the paper including those of its short-lived sister publication, the Moscow Daily News (1932-1938).

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1941-1996 (Readex)
Features full text translations of foreign radio and television broadcasts as well as foreign newspapers, periodical articles, and government statements selected by the C.I.A. for distribution to U.S. policymakers and security analysts.
Partially funded with a gift from Allen Cellar, '69 CLAS.

Digital National Security Archive (ProQuest)
Features over 50 collections of declassified government documents not presently available on the National Security Archive website. Documents are digitized from microfiche and include White House communications, meeting notes, memos, and confidential letters, as well as chronologies and bibliographies. Topics covered include national security, human rights, nuclear proliferation, Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, and the spread of international communism. Coverage extends from the middle of the 20th century to the present.

U.S. Declassified Documents Online (Gale)
Provides full text access to formerly classified U.S. government documents from agencies including the CIA, FBI, Department of State, National Security Council, White House, and Department of Defense. Documents are added as they are declassified. Covers 1900 to the present.