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History Subject Resource Guide

Special Collections and Archives

You might want to visit libraries which have collections of manuscripts, papers, organizational records, ephemera or other unpublished materials relating to the people, organizations and agencies involved in the events.  These are often original, one-of-a-kind materials.  Click on the link above for Hofstra University's Special Collections department.


Government Information

Publications generated by a government body, public records, reports and statistics such as census records, laws, Supreme Court decisions and treaties are excellent sources of primary materials.  The John W. Wydler Government Information Depository of Hofstra University is a virtual depository designated by the U.S. Federal government.  Click the link above for information about the depository, guidance for using the collection, and contact information for additional help.

Please note:  Congressional Publications also provides access to many Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS).  These reports are published to provide non-partisan research to U.S. congress.  The reports are authored by experts and cover many topics.  They are especially useful to students.  

You can also find CRS reports here.

Search tips

Search by KEYWORDS

  • Use keywords that represent the major concept(s) in your topic.  A keyword search searches for those concepts anywhere in the catalog or database record
  • Once you have located some relevant items, you can do a more refined search using the subject terms (sometimes called descriptors) that appear in those records

Search by SUBJECT

  • Subject terms are standardized terms developed to describe materials listed in the catalog or database.
  • Subject terms are not always commonly used terms.  Searching by keyword first is an easy way to determine relevant subject terms
  • You can then click on the link in the subject field of the record or use the search box to search by subject.  The catalog and most databases will have a drop-down menu where you can choose to search by subject (or descriptor).


  • Combine subject terms and/or keywords to search for primary materials using the drop-down menus located in the advanced search screens of the catalog or databases. 
  • Consider limiting your search by publication date.  Use the time period you are researching.  Materials published within that timeframe MAY BE (but are not necessarily) primary--you will need to evaluate if they are first-hand accounts.
  • Try using keywords that represent the type(s) of materials you are looking for such as


Search the catalog and online databases

Use DISCOVERY to locate primary source materials.  Click on the Books/eBooks tab to start.


Use the following databases to locate primary materials


HathiTrust is a partnership of large, research libraries that have digitized large portions of their collections--it is a good source for primary documents, many of which are in the public domain. Printing is limited but you can view entire documents online. 

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