*English Language and Literature: Primary Sources

This guide provides general information regarding a selection of KU resources and websites pertaining to English Literature, English Literary Theory, Rhetoric and Composition, and Creative Writing.


Alice's Adventures in WonderlandNative SonA Tale of Two Cities Wuthering HeightsThe Waste Land The Bluest EyeThe Catcher in the RyeParadise LostMrs. Dalloway

Historical Newspapers

Newspapers are invaluable for their immediacy, recording history as it happened. The following are a few of the databases that provide historical newspaper access (other available titles can be found by searching the Library's Databases A-Z list):

Historical Magazines & Periodicals

The following are examples of historical popular magazines and periodical literature (other than newspapers) accessible through KU collections:

Find Original Prose, Poetry & Drama

The following databases may be useful in finding primary source literature, including novels, stories, pamphlets, broadsides and more:

Historical Ephemera & More

The following collections include diaries, letters, and various ephemera including posters, maps, advertisements, trade cards, programs, and more:

Primary vs. Secondary

Primary sources are firsthand accounts of an event - or original records created during a particular time period - which do not contain any outside interpretation. Examples include:

  • letters, diaries, interviews
  • historical news reportage
  • original works of fiction, art, or music
  • original research or data
  • testimony or speeches

Primary sources are useful because they give researchers a better understanding of an event since they are written by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question.

Secondary sources are one step removed from the original event.  They provide criticism or interpretation of a primary source.