Desperately seeking primary sources?

Are you in the Atlantic History course, or some other course for which you are looking up primary sources for periods like 1400-1800?? There are library guides for courses like Atlantic History that list databases to search for primary sources. Here are some tips for using Early English Books Online (EEBO), one of the primary source databases available to UW-Whitewater students and staff:

  1. Use AND between search terms on the search box, e.g., tobacco AND slaves. Another possibility that requires your search terms to be closer together is tobacco NEAR slaves
  2. Remember that you are looking up words used by the people who wrote these documents! They may not have used the spellings you expect, or even the words you expect, so read on to tip #2:

  3. Click the little text right of the search box “Check for variants” to get a list of possible spelling variants on your search terms, click the boxes for the possibilities you’d like to include in your search, and then click the blue “Select” box.
  4. Be sure to adjust the date period to be searched, or it will use the default (which runs from 1473-1900).
  5. Consider using the “SUBJECT KEYWORD(s):” Click “Select from a list” and type the beginning of a word, e.g., tobacc, click the blue “Search for” button, next you can highlight subjects from the list that appears, and then click the blue “OK” button to return to the search page.
    • To select a run of subjects on the list: click the first one that appeals and scroll down to the last one that appeals, hold down the Shift key and then click the last one that appeals.
    • To select scattered subjects, hold down the Ctrl key and click the ones you want to use.
  6. Now click “Search.”

Once you have the results, each one will tell you how many times your search words were found, e.g., “Found: 128 hit(s)”. Click the link below that (the title in blue) to get into the text. Click “-> First hit” to get to the first use of one of your search words in the text. Thereafter, use the arrows to go to the previous or next use of your search words.

The link “View document image” interspersed within the text allows you to see the page images.

About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
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One Response to Desperately seeking primary sources?

  1. spudart says:

    Sweet! I love primary sources. My sister works for the National Archives.

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