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LBS 3600- Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society

Finding Primary Sources never easy.  How you go about it depends on your topic.  It's a good idea to ask for personal help from a professor or librarian; they may recommend a specialized resource for your research.  Here are some search tricks you can try:

  • Search in  One Search for books or publications that contain primary sources.  Conduct an Advanced Search for...
    • The topic of your research AND a type of primary source, for instance...
    • American Indian Education AND federal boarding schools AND government policy
    • World War, 1914-1918 AND diaries
      Nisei AND oral histories
      civil rights AND interviews
      AND case studies
    • Items published during the time period you're researching by limiting the dates of publication, for instance...
      Search the key terms Soviet Union and limit to works published between 1950 and 1960 to retrieve Cold War documents
    • Government documents related to your topic by limiting the type of resource, for instance...
      Search the key term voting rights and limit to "Resource Type: Government Documents"
    • Creative works such as novels, poems, or photographs related to your topic, for instance...
      slavery AND fiction or novel
      Industrial Revolution AND art

  • Search in a historical database for periodical articles published during the time period you're researching, such as...
  • Search in digital collections hosted on the World Wide Web.  Find a collection focussed on the era, region, or topic that you're researching and see what you can find!  Scroll through the list of digital collections compiled by the Cal State LA Librarian, Holly Yu.

Finding Interviews in News Databases


You can limit your search in many news databases by document type to interview to search for this type of primary source.


Finding Images

Google Books

Google Books

Google Books offers free full-text access to many out-of-copyright e-books.  This includes archival and primary source materials. The easiest way to search for these titles is to use the advanced search page and select full view.




Autobiographies vs. Biographies

Use the advanced search in One Search and search by author/contributor to find autobiographies/ memoirs/ photograph collections/ poetry (primary source) by musicians vs. searching the musician's name as a subject to find biographical information (secondary source).  You may have to broaden your search to CSU collections if you are not coming up with many titles at our library. You can then request the title you need using CSU+.


Finding Documentaries

Refine your search by subject to documentary

Library Databases with Primary Sources


Use the A-Z databases list to find databases with primary sources by subject:




John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300