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HIST 332 First World War in Europe: Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources vary from one discipline to another. For the student in a history course, primary sources might include diaries, correspondence, or newspaper & magazine reports.  While secondary sources analyze an event or interpret how a battle was won, primary sources provide the raw materials for scholarship.

Primary Sources at Kenyon

We have access to many primary source materials through the Kenyon Library, both in print and electronically.  Locating these materials provides an opportunity for you to use many of our library's catalogs and databases.

I would start my research process with looking in the CONSORT catalog.  It is a combined library with three other libraries and using terms such as 'Great War' and diaries will help you locate appropriate books.

KEYWORD search example: "great war" diaries immediately brought up 12 books

Looking at individual records I found out that the proper SUBJECT heading for the war when books are cataloged is

World War, 1914-1918

and that 'personal narrative*' might be a terms to link to the subject heading above if I wanted to locate narratives.  (note the use of the '*', also called a 'truncation symbol, this enables the online system to search for both 'narrative and 'narratives')

Use both keyword searches and  Library of Congress subject headings in the CONSORT catalog.  The terms below work well for 

  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • early works to 1800
  • interviews
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • sources

My KEYWORD search for "world war 1914-1918" and personal narrative resulted in over 300 matches.

You may further limit your CONSORT search by year of publication (see the LIMIT/SORT RESULTS button at the top of the screen).

American Newspapers


European Newspaper and Periodical Collections

Many other newspaper collections are listed on our Primary Sources libguide.

Asian Newspapers

Subject Guide

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Shannon Simpson
Chalmers Library 114

Director of Collections & Access

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Chris Hudson
Chalmers Library 157

Help with Biblographies

Both of the style guides listed below may be found at the Reference Desk.  You may use these copies anywhere in the library, just remember to return guide(s) to the Reference desk at the end of the day.

Need help with Names, Dates & Historical Information?