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History: Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are documents (manuscript or printed) from particular historical periods, as opposed to "secondary sources"  (e.g. books and articles) written at a later date about particular historical periods.  

History Sources in Hartley


History Sources (Hist Sources) is a reference only collection of printed primary sources in the Special Collections area of the Hartley Library (level 4). Whether you are using DelphiS or WebCat you will find materials with the location Hist Sources. Most of History Sources is arranged in large series. To find a volume in History Sources is usually fairly easy, and just like finding any book which is part of a series. Always make a note of the call number AND the volume number within the series (the latter is crucial, as if the series has hundreds of volumes, it is the volume number which makes it easy to locate on the shelves). Many of the volumes in History Sources include the complete text of a document, others are guides to finding primary sources (e.g. what other institutions hold). Some are "calendars" which are chronological lists of documents held at other libraries or archives (e.g. the National Archives).

Evaluating the quality of primary source websites

Calendars of State Papers

Many of the Calendars of State Papers are freely available at British History Online Other Calendars are available only to members of the University through the Library’s subscription.

State Papers Online

Members of the University can access digitised historical manuscripts, along with accompanying calendars, in the following collections at State Papers Online:

          The Tudors, 1509-1603: State Papers, Domestic

          The Tudors, 1509-1603: State Papers, Foreign, Scotland, Borders, Ireland and Registers of the Privy Council

See Primary Sources Online section opposite for links to the subscription services of British History Online and State Papers Online.

Primary Sources online

This listing includes all the primary source databases for History which we subscribe to. Freely available primary source databases are generally too numerous to list, but a few that are particularly useful are included.

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