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Primary Sources & Where To Find Them

An introduction to primary sources and some of the tools one can use to identify them.

Archives Unbound

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What is Archives Unbound?

Archives Unbound, also known as Gale Primary Sources, is a database collection of historical documents that cover an array of historical topics. Topic areas include:

  • African American Studies
  • African Studies
  • American Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • British and European History
  • Business and Economic History
  • Cultural Studies
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
  • Health and Environmental Studies
  • Holocaust Studies
  • International Relations
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Law, Politics, and Radical Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Native American Studies
  • Religious Studies

Navigating Archives Unbound

Three Main Search Tools in Archives Unbound

1. Advanced Search

  • Advanced search allows you to search across indexes using keyword, author/creator, document title, manuscript number as well as narrow focus to parameters such as certain date ranges, content types, and languages across collections.

2. Topic Finder

  • This advanced search feature allows you to discover related terms and new connections that commonly occur in relation to your own search term. This tool takes the titles, subjects, and approximately the first 100 words from a subset of your top results and feeds them into an algorithm. Keywords are then shown in two graphic visuals, Tiles and a Wheel, and are those found most often in the text with your search term. For example, the term cluster for "Washington State" might bring up related topics such as "Base Minerals," "Public Health," or "Financial Matters," prompting users down different research paths (see the figures below).

3. Term Frequency

  • This  tool allows you to explore the frequency of one or more search terms in the content over time, which can suggest the changing importance of particular concepts over the years. The coverage is displayed on a graph that can be explored between the years of 1256-2014. Below is an example of a graph of the search term, “Washington State” from 1950-2014. The documents consist of monographs, manuscripts, and Archives Unbound newspapers. You can also click and drag in the plot area to zoom in. 
  • Once searching under Explore Collections, make sure to keep checking your filter options. Once you select a filter option, it is highlighted in blue color on top of the page. The filters keep adding to the list and you will need to delete one in order to remove an unwanted search filter. For example, you may forget to delete the filter, Topic “Religious Studies” before searching for a different topic, “Health and Environmental Studies.” Doing so, will give you broad results of both of the topics instead of narrowing it to one.