TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY Pickler Memorial Library Truman State University

Primary Sources

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.

Here's how to find them in the Library.

Firsthand accounts

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

stanton, elizabeth cady


lewis, meriwether


Books which are collections of personal stories or reminiscences of an event are listed with the subdivision PERSONAL NARRATIVES.  Do a keyword search in the  Library Catalog.
korean war and personal narratives

depression and 1929 and personal narratives

The Library also has a large microform collection containing  primary source material.  For example: 

American Women's Diaries:   Firsthand accounts of the lives, contributions, and thoughts of women from the colonial period through the turn of the 20th century.

Columbia Oral History Collection:  More than 1000 memoirs by 20th-century political, social, media, scientific, artistic, and economic leaders.

Africa Through Western Eyes:  Diaries, records of explorers, missionaries, etc.

Click to view the entire list of our Microform Collections by subject..


Books that are collections of various documents from a particular country will have the word SOURCES as part of the subject in the Library Catalog.  Use s:sources as part of your keyword search.  You can also search for a particular event in the same way.

united states and history and civil war and s:sources

cold war and s:sources

ancient rome and s:sources 

Laws, hearings, court cases, etc. can be found in LexisNexis.  The Library has a guide to help you use this source most effectively. 

Many government documents are available on the Internet.  The University of Oklahoma College of Law has an excellent chronological list with links, beginning with pre-colonial times.

Business Reports

Annual reports and SEC filings of a business can be considered a primary source.  These can be found on LexisNexis Business-SEC filings* or AnnualReports.Com.

*Must be on the Truman network to access.

Research Results

Results of research are published in scholarly journals.  To find them you must use an appropriate subject periodical index.  Look at the Library's subject list of databases to find the ones appropriate for your topic.

For help, come by the Library Service Desk, call 785-4051,  or Ask-A-Librarian by e-mail.


Encouraging Discovery