European History
Finding Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?
Types of Primary Sources
Strategies for Finding Primary Sources
            Magazine Articles
            Newspaper Articles
Selected Websites

What are Primary Sources

  • "historical raw materials"
  • "the leavings, the shards, the remnants of people who once lived and don't live anymore"
  • "is material -- a document or other evidence -- that was created during the period or the event"
  • "firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation"

Types of Primary Sources

"Written" documents Physical evidence/Cultural artifacts

Strategies for Finding Primary Sources in the UW Libraries


The UW Libraries has a huge collection of books that can be considered primary sources for European history. These include books written during the period for your topic (i.e., during the Russian Revolution), books written by participants, published collections of correspondence and other personal writings, memoirs and reprints of collections of primary source material. Most books are printed but some are microfilmed.

  • Do author searches in the UW Libraries Catalog for books written by key participants (people or organizations).

  • Limit your search by publication date(s). Do a keywords search in the UW Libraries Catalog for your topic and fill in the Year After and Before boxes.

  • Use special subject headings that designate primary sources. Do a keywords search for your topic in the UW Libraries Catalog and add the phrase "and su:(sources or narratives or diaries or correspondence)"

Magazine Articles

  • Indexes to Magazine Articles
    Bibliographie der deutschen Zeitschriften-literatur. 1896-1964Reference AI9 .B5
    Poole’s Index to Periodicals, 1802-1907Reference AI3 .P7
    Subject Index to Periodicals, 1915-1961 Reference AI3 .S78

  • Magazines for Browsing
    Die Gartenlaube, 1867-1913 Periodicals 053 GA
    Illustrirte Welt, 1867-1872, 1888-1890 Periodicals 053 IW
    The Englishwoman, 1909-1921Microfilm M-1339
    Illustrated London News, 1842-Periodicals 051 IL
    Spectator, 1906Periodicals 051 SP
    Vogue (London), 1916-1939Drama MB-492
    Woman's life, 1895-1905Microfilm A7545
    L’Illustration, 1909-1955Periodicals 054 IL
    Illustrirte Zeitung, 1907-1941Periodicals 053 IL
    Punch, 1900-1992 (1842-1899 in Special Collections)Periodicals AP101 .P8

Newspaper Articles

  • Index to Newspaper Articles

    There is only one non-American newspaper with an index covering the 19th and 20th centuries, The Times of London. The Times index is divided into two parts:

  • Newspapers for Browsing
    If you are working on a specific event, use that date to browse through newspapers from the period or use one of the indexes to the Times to pinpoint coverage. Other than the two British papers, the UW Libraries has very few European newspapers with long publication periods.
    Irish Times, 1874-1922Microfilm A6161
    La Epoca (Madrid), 1870-1936Microfilm A4189
    L'Humanite (Paris, Communist paper), 1904-1939Microfilm A1436
    Manchester Guardian, 1821-Microfilm A597
    Times of London, 1788- Microfilm A506

Selected Websites

Poster: E.V. Kealey, 1915. Courtesy of the Roger N. Mohovich Collection exhibit at Georgetown University.

Slides - History Subject Page - UW Libraries

7 May 2000