Primary Sources, European: Home

This guide provides help in finding primary sources concerning Europeanhistory. In addition to searching tips, it provides links to KU databases and free web sources.

About This Guide


This guide is a starting point to primary sources relating to Europe.  The materials listed on these pages are just a handful of the many resources available to researchers at the University of Kansas.  If you need additional assistance finding primary sources, please e-mail

Often Overlooked Sources

Library Catalogs

The KU Library Catalog is a gateway to a wide variety of primary sources.  It not only lists monographs, but microfilm, videos, periodicals, manuscript collections, and digital collections.  These search suggestions can be used in WorldCat, Hathitrust, or any other library catalog.

  • General Keyword Search: A general keyword search is an excellent way to start searching for primary sources. Use the “Set Other Search Limits” to only retrieve materials published since the year of the event/period for which you are searching.  For example, if interested in rationing during World War II, set the limits for greater than 1940.  Be warned that publication dates for older material might be recent.  For example, Thomas Jefferson is the author of seven titles in the KU catalog published since 2000. Another helpful tip is arrange results by date--the most recent for secondary sources and oldest for primary sources.
  • Keyword Search: Specific keywords identify primary sources.  Examples of terms that retrieve primary sources: sources, journals, correspondence, personal narratives, diaries, papers, letters, documents, interviews, speeches, and pamphletsCombine one of these terms with a keyword search the advanced catalog search.  Make sure to use the plural version of the type of materials you'd like to retrieve. 
  • Author Search: Searching by author identifies works attributed to an individual or an organization.  For example, searching "Roosevelt, Eleanor" as an author retrieves materials such as "It's Up to the Women, by Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt."  An author search for "Confederate States of America" results in a list of materials published by the Confederacy.       
  • Subject Headings: Subject headings are an excellent way to identify primary sources, but knowing the correct subject heading can be challenging.  For example, the heading for World War I is "World War, 1914-1918."  The best way to discover a subject heading is to do a keyword search and then scour the results possible subject headings.
  • Limiting to Spencer Research Library: Choose the “Set Other Search Limits” button and select Spencer in the location box. Remember, this is not an all-inclusive search of Spencer’s holdings. ·        

Citing Primary Sources

Subject Guide

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Sara Morris
Watson Library, Room 350
1425 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-7544