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HIST 3311 - Sex and Society in American History (Mammina)

Finding Primary Sources

Primary sources are found in a variety of places but you have to know where to search for them. Because primary sources can be both published and not published, they can be tricky to find.

Often materials that are not published can be rare items that don't have many copies; things like diaries and letters. However, sometimes you can find primary sources that are published, like collections of letters or a person's diary published after the fact.  

Search Library Catalog

Places to Look



Subject Terms


Keywords can be used in a database when you want to find items that have a word or a phrase anywhere in the item record. This can be a good way to get started, but it's important to note that the item may only mention your keyword once, so it may not be relevant to your research. Here are some keywords you may want to consider:

  • Personal Narratives
  • Women
  • African Americans
  • Social Aspects
  • Campaigns
  • Slavery
  • Psychological Aspects

Subject Terms

Subject terms can be a more specific way to search. Each item that is entered into our catalog is assigned Subject Terms. These are terms that describe the focus of the resource. The one difficult thing about subject terms is figuring out what subject term is assigned to your topic. Here are a few subject terms that can get you started.


  • Sex customs--United States--History--Sources.
  • Women--Germany--Legal status, laws, etc.--History--Sources.
  • Sex role--United States--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Marriage--History--To 1500--Sources.
  • Marriage customs and rites--New England--History--Sources.
  • Family--England--History--19th century--Sources.
  • Slavery--United States--History--Sources.