TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY Pickler Memorial Library Truman State University

Primary Sources - Guide for Art History

Primary sources are generally considered to be firsthand accounts of an event or the actual documents associated with an event.  Firsthand accounts can be found in diaries, memoirs, letters, speeches, autobiographies, scholarly articles giving the results of research, etc.  Documents might be laws, treaties, transcripts of hearings, court cases, etc.

Author searches

Speeches, letters, journals, diaries, etc. of an individual may be found by looking for the name of that person as an author.  Examples of author searches

michelangelo          retrieves  Complete poems and selected letters of Michelangelo
gogh vincent van    retrieves    Vincent Van Gogh Art Life and Letters

*Caution: Records for exhibition catalogs will use the artist as the author and are not writings of the artist.

Keyword searches

The word sources or documents or documentary usually occur on records for anthologies or collections of primary source material.  Use those words in a keyword search to bring up collections of documents.

art and history and (sources or document*)

art, renaissance and s:sources     The s:  limits the term sources to the subject field.

The library also has this series Sources And Documents In The History Of Art

Use the Library catalog to find these in our library.  Use MOBIUS or WorldCat  to see what other volumes might exist that you could borrow. 

Primary Source Resources

Early English Books
A microfilm collection of books published in England or in the English language between 1475 and 1700.  There are some very interesting old volumes in this collection.  To search in this collection specifically, add early English books to your keyword search in our catalog.

         early english books and (color or colors)

Early American Imprints 
A microfiche collection of books published in the U.S. in the 17th and 18th centuries. To search this collection specifically, add early american imprints to your keyword search.
         painting and (early american imprints)

Documents of 20th Century Art
Collection of volumes giving primary sources relating to 20th century art.  In the LibraryCatalog, a search on this title will find a list of the books in the series.  Some of the authors included are: Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Arp, Umbro Apollonio, Daniel Kahnweiler, Jacques Lipchitz, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and Pablo Picasso.

Lives of the Artists. Written by Vasari (1511-1574)
Reference N 6922 V2213 1991

Artists on Art from the XIV to the XX Century
Reference N 7452 G64 1958

Twentieth-century Artists on Art : an index to Writings, Statements, and Interviews by Artists, Architects, and Designers
Reference NX 456 R59 1996

Smithsonian Archive of American Art
A digitized collection of papers of artists and other archival material from the Archives of American Art including  letters, postcards, sketches, exhibition records, diaries, and other unique documents. The collection also includes transcripts of interviews with artists, collectors, gallery directors, and art historians. 



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