European History: Websites/Primary Sources

Books and Databases

Use Reputable Sites!

Or the angels will weep for you....

Primary Source Training module

An excellent training module is available at Primary Source Village.

Unsure about a Given Web Site?

Cultivate an attitude of skepticism when it comes to web-based content.  If you have any doubt whatsoever about the reliability of any given website, clear it with your instructor or check with a librarian before you use it in your paper.

Useful Links

What are primary sources?

A primary source is a document or other historical evidence written or created during or near the period under study. Because of their close relation to the subject, primary sources usually offer special insight about their topic. The person, organization, or body under study often generates them. There are many examples of primary sources; each varies according to the nature of your topic. Primary
sources generally are:

• Original Documents: Diaries, manuscripts, speeches, letters, minutes, interviews, news or film footage, autobiographies, and official records and documents Note: Translations and excerpts are acceptable.

• Creative Works: Poetry, drama, novels, short stories, music, and art

• Relics or Artifacts: Jewelry, pottery, furniture, clothing, and buildings

Primary Sources at MU Library

A good way to use the online library catalogue to track down primary sources is to add the term "sources" into the search string.  For example, the search string Germany History 20th Century Sources  leads to Letters of Prince von Bülow; a selection from Prince von Bülow's official correspondence as imperial chancellor during the years 1903-1909, including, in particular, many confidential letters exchanged between him and the Emperor.

Terms such as "oral history," "interview, " diary," "letters" are also indications that the source is a primary source.  In some cases, such texts are edited, annotated and published with commentary along with the primary material.