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Recognize Search Tools for Primary Sources

What are some search tools that help find primary sources?  Primary search tools assist researchers find relevant archival collections, as well as microfilm sets and published collections of primary sources. Some search tools are only intended to point researchers to the appropriate libraries or archives and do not contain the actual primary sources. Often, researchers will visit various libraries or archives to access materials. However, you as a student historian researcher may be able to access digitized or born-digital primary sources online or through library subscriptions.

Primary source search tools include:

  1. Library catalogs and databases that identify primary sources or collections specific to one institution.  
  2. Library catalogs and databases that identify primary sources or collection across many different institutions.
  3. Databases that provide direct access to primary sources from multiple institutions.
  4. Digitized or born-digital collections from one institution.

1. Library Catalogs and Databases. One Institution

SMCL and ONE Search are the library catalogs of South Mountain Community Library (SMCL). A library catalog is an inventory of all items found within the library, either physically or electronically. It is organized and indexed so that you can search a variety of fields/indexes. You can search by using keyword, name, title, Library of Congress Subject Heading or Dewey Decimal Subject Heading and many more.

SMCL includes all of the integrated library's (South Mountain Community College and Phoenix Public Library) collections except those of the Libraries of Maricopa Community Colleges, which are in the ONE Search catalog. ONE Search performs a combined search of South Mountain Community College Library and the Libraries of Maricopa Community, while also providing easier access to digital materials from selected library databases.

Below are direct access to the library catalogs:

3. Databases Direct Access. Multiple Institutions.

2. Library Catalog and Index Database. Many Institutions

There are a number of ways to search for primary materials found at SMCL and beyond. The two primary source search tools below provides a good place to start. They are also good browsing tools.

4. Digitized or born-digital collections. One institution

These resources are typically online exhibits or specially selected portions of a collection from a library, archives, or museum.