Finding Primary Sources


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  • Welcome to Finding Primary Sources.
  • Before we proceed onto the subject of our class, I want to point out that everything that I’ll be talking about today – and in fact, more– you can find on the Library’s website Under Instruction
  • On the Instruction page you have access to the up-to-date guides of all the classes that we have taught. You will see me coming back to Watsonline a lot. It’s sort of a home base, making it an essential gateway, or launching pad to research.
  • We all know what a primary source is, but let’s reconfirm. According to the Oxford English Dictionary
  • The types of material we will consider today are newspapers, manuscripts, sound and video.
  • And we are going to get to these materials via Library Catalogs (specifically Watsonline and Gallica) Subscription Databases (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), and free Web Resources
  • I’m back to the library’s website, which, together with Watsonline, the library catalog, is an excellent path to a wealth of resources including primary materials. To find an electronic resource, enter the full title or the beginning of it in the Site Search Box at the top right. Or Use Watsonline to enter your search criteria. In this case, it’s Chronicling America
  • Through either Site Search or Watsonline, you’ll arrive here and then can connect to Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers .
  • Chronicling America is a prototype Website that was launched in 2007, providing access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and it is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC). This is a long-term effort to develop a searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. This rich digital resource will be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. You can see all available newspapers by clicking on this link.
  • The time coverage is from 1880 to 1910 at the moment; eventually, over a period of approx. 20 years, it will extend back to 1836 up to 1922. The newspapers from the following states are in the project. Ultimately, all the states and US territories will be included. However, the database is functional for the parameters I just mentioned.
  • Once you’ve selected a particular newspaper via the list, you may browse its pages by the calendar or
  • Or by front pages. You may also search newspaper pages by going to Search Newspaper Pages ENTER and
  • Entering your terms in the appropriate search box. Notice that I selected all states, all years and all newspapers to be searched, but of course you may focus your query by the criteia above if you wish to do so.
  • I am back to Watsonline. As you can see, in the title field, I typed in APS, and I further narrowed down my search by selecting e-resources from the drop-down menu.
  • This brings you to the two ProQuest databases that the library subscribes to: American Periodicals Series Online and the New York Times (1851-2005). You may search them simultaneously, or if you wish you may deselect one of them. The content of the NY Times database is self-explanatory.
  • American Periodicals Series collection contains digitized page images from American magazines and journals that originated between 1741, when Andrew Bradford's American Magazine and Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine were launched, and 1900. APS features over 1,500 periodicals spanning nearly 200 years — from colonial times to 1900. Titles range from America's first scientific journal, Medical Repository , to popular magazines like Vanity Fair and Ladies' Home Journal . A few periodicals expand the range to 1941.
  • To browse included publications, click on the Publications tab and then on the link Show all publications .
  • To perform a search, select the tab – Basic or Advanced – type in your search terms and limit by the available criteria. In my case, I’d like to find pieces about Eastman Johnson’s famous painting “the old Kentucky home.” I know that he had painted it in 1859 and my end date is the year of his death. By opening More Search Options, you have additional ways of limiting your search by publication title, author, document type, etc. Note that I performed my search in the Basic Mode.
  • I got 7 hits in my search, all relevant, and this is one of them. This article is from a Sept. 1865 issue of the American Phrenological Journal. As you can see, my search terms are conveniently highlighted. You may browse through your results by simply clicking NEXT at the top. And of course you have a tool bar with all the familiar tools, such as save, zoom, etc.
  • Gallica is a digital collection of the National Library of France. And I’m sure many of you are familiar with it. There are more than 800 thousand documents in this digital collection from the National Library as well as more than 4000 documents from partner institutions – These documents are books, periodicals, photographs, sound files, maps, etc.
  • One of the many types of material you can access in Gallica is daily press. By clicking the discover link ENTER, you’ll arrive at a page that explains the project and which newspapers are included.
  • This is the alphabetical list of the newspapers that either have already been digitized or are in the process of being digitized. To enter a specific newspaper, simply click on the title.
  • I went to Le Figaro . As you can see from the calendar, not every single issue of the paper is digitized but a great majority, including several issues from 1826, the year Le Figaro was founded as a weekly satirical newspaper. The last available year is 1942. You can search the newspaper from this page or you can browse the calendar by simply clicking on the year, which further breaks down the calendar into months and days. From that you can select an issue.
  • I entered the Sept. 2, 1939 issue. At the top, there are several display possibilities. Mosaic gives you all the digitized pages in that issue; text is simply a transcribed regular text; listening mode is a voice reading the content of the paper, beginning with the title, issue number, year, the weather, etc. and zoom allows you to zoom in on the sections of a page. You can also search within this issue by entering your search terms in this box at right ENTER or you can search this periodical – Le Figaro as a whole - by using the box above.
  • I used the zoom function to be able to read; the tool that is circled up at the top allows you to pan around the page. And of course you may print, save or email the document.
  • Back to Watsonline. The next tool that I’d like to show you is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Dictionary of National biography is an illustrated collection of more than 56,600 specially written biographies of the men and women from around the world who shaped all aspects of Britain's past. From the homepage, you can search, browse, or explore themes by going to the tabs at the top. You can begin your search right here, or
  • After selecting the correct John Constable, landscape painter and draughtsman, we are presented with this detailed biography of the artist. For clarity and convenience, at left, the biography is divided into most important events in the artist’s life, followed by a bibliography. What is of interest to us for the purposes of this class are references and the archival sources. ENTER
  • When you go to the References Link, after the bibliography, there is a list of archives that hold documents about the person in question.
  • You may choose to go to Other Online Resources and click on National Register of Archives
  • … which will then take you, via the UK's National Archives, to essentially the same list as the archival sources in the Reference section but more detailed, providing time period, the type of material (1826-36: misc corresp and papers) and its location and record number (British Library, Manuscript Collection). From here, you are invited to contact the appropriate repository and follow its guidelines for obtaining the material of interest.
  • Another resource I’d like to turn your attention to is Perseus Digital Library. Again, you can access it through Watsonline, just as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Perseus has a particular focus on the Greco-Roman world and on classical Greek and Latin, but their larger mission is to make the full record of humanity - linguistic sources, physical artifacts, historical spaces - as intellectually accessible as possible to every human being, regardless of linguistic or cultural background.
  • We are in Collections and Texts. All texts are all transcribed and searchable.
  • Collections that are of interest to us, since they include primary sources are G&Roman materials; Renaissance materials (there are Primary and secondary sources in early modern English literature); Richmond Times Dispatch (issues of the newspaper; through Chronicling America, RTD available from 1900 to 1910) and here the range is 1861-1865, covering the years of the Civil War; Arabic language documents (contains primarily different ed. of the Quran; Germanic materials, and non-literary papyri from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.
  • This is the beginning of the list of the primary and secondary documents in the Greek and Roman materials collection. At left you have a chart indicating how much of the material is in what language in this particular collection. Let’s go to Aristophanes.
  • You can see from here that some are translated and some are in Greek.
  • This is the first page of Lycistrata, one of the celebrated comedies by Aristophanes. A few words about what you have on this page. There’s quite a lot going on. Your main text is here, in the middle; transcribed of course. A text navigation box allows to jump to another part of the work or a different work altogether. Since the text is in Greek, you may click on words to analyze and parse forms and link to definitions Browse bar that runs across the top of the page gives you a quick overview of the structure and relative size of the sections of the text. Our current position in the text is marked in blue. The uppermost gray box denotes the collection(s) and categories to which the current text belongs and offers links to view similarly classified documents or documents by the same author. This is followed by the table of contents . Table of Contents divisions will match those of the Browse bar, but often provide greater detail. References gives any cross-references to this passage made in other Perseus works,
  • If you scroll towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see a search box. The default language of in page searching matches that of the focus text. In our case, it’s Greek.
  • I’d like to return to Gallica to show you another type of primary material – manuscripts.
  • The Gallica collection of manuscripts is extensive. It comprises a variety of material in different languages; including French literary works – Sentimental Education by Flaubert and Remembrance of Things Past by Proust, for example; The tale of Genji and other Japanese works, including those that contain wood engravings by Hokusai; manuscripts from the Korean Royal Archives; a number of medieval illuminated manuscripts, manuscripts brought back from Dunhuang in 1910 (I’ll talk about that portion a bit later) and a selection of materials representative of the rich collection of western and eastern manuscripts held by the French National Library.
  • a number of medieval illuminated manuscripts, and a selection of works representative of the rich collection of western and eastern manuscripts kept in the French National Library.
  • To perform a search for digitized manuscripts in Gallica, you should use to Advanced Search. You may put any terms you wish in the five fields available (I just wrote Proust in the Autor field); select manuscript in document type, select the language, Provenance BnF, and execute a search. If you don’t check off BnF, you will also have access to the manuscripts from partner libraries, such as InterUniversity Library of Medicine, etc.
  • This is the view of the one of the notebooks of Remembrance of Things Past and you can use all the functions that we used when searching daily press, zoom being an indispensible one.
  • Close-up of a page
  • What is INTUTE? Intute is a free online service providing access to the very best of web resources for education and research. All material is evaluated and selected by a network of subject specialists.
  • Primary subject classifications are Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Health and Life Sciences, and Arts and Humanities. Intute is a consortium of seven universities working in partnership with institutions in the UK. Among the partners in the Arts and Humanities are Higher Education Academy , Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies and University of Oxford . And it is featured in this class because it is another gateway to original materials. I am going to show you the Arts and Humanities portion of the database.
  • We are now in the Arts and Humanities portion of the database. From this page you can do several things. You can right away begin to search by filling the search box; you may wish to take a look at the newly added sources in the Arts and Humanities, or, as we are going to do, you can browse by subject. Visual Arts in this case.
  • Again, you have several options. You may proceed by searching within the visual arts category or browse by heading. I want to browse by resource type. Among various resource types are e-books, journals, etc, and primary source (click to the next slide)
  • One of the sources I came across is The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot. To find it in Watsonline, type in a keyword or words and search in the E-Resources category. And them connect to the website.
  • The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot Project consists of a comprehensive edition of the nearly 10,000 letters to and from Talbot (1800-1877)
  • You can search the letters by correspondents (the list of which is available up at the top); by a year or by keywords.
  • The letters are transcribed verbatim preserving the names, dates and other writing in the manner that the original author employed. The original spelling, punctuation and grammar have been retained. Editorial interpolations are minimal and have been clearly signaled. The numbers scattered throughout the letter refer to the annotations at the end of the letter. This particular letter is from his cousin Mary.
  • Another source I found through Intute is the English emblem book project. The English Emblem Book Project was conducted by the Pennsylvania State University Libraries with the aim of making full-text emblem books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries available online.
  • At present there are 9 books available with full bibliographical details. All the books are from Penn State University Libraries Rare Book Room.
  • The content of these books is not searchable. You can browse by table of contents and leaf through the pages.
  • The Association of College and Research Libraries – a division of the American Library Association – created a section called Western European Studies Section , or WESS for short that represents librarians and others in the Association of College and Research Libraries who specialize or are otherwise professionally involved in the acquisition, organization, and use of information sources originating in or relating to Western European countries.".
  • One of the things that the members of WESS have done is to create home pages for studies devoted to several European cultures, not all, but the major ones. Let’s take a look at German Studies Web, as an example.
  • These homepages are all organized in a slightly different fashion but they all have links to newspapers as well as a variety of other digital materials. One important thing to bear in mind also is that the source that have made it onto these pages have undergone an evaluation and selection process. So let’s take a look at the German Studies site – It include Digital Texts and Images section focusing on major scholarly digitization projects (GO LIVE HERE)
  • Next Resource I’d like show you is UbuWeb.
  • What is UbuWeb? It is an online repository of concrete, sound and visual poetry, described as "a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts." As the founders and administrators of it confess themselves, "UbuWeb posts much of its content without permission; “we rip out-of-print LPs into sound files; we scan as many old books as we can get our hands on; we post essays as fast as we can OCR (optical character recognition) them. UbuWeb is an unlimited resource with unlimited space to fill. It is in this way that the site has grown to encompass hundreds of artists, hundreds of gigabytes of sound files, books, texts and videos."
  • A search for John Baldessari produced 27 results in different formats, including sound files and video.
  • Among them is this video called Baldessari Sings LeWitt from 1972. The video shows Baldessari singing Sol Lewitt's forty-five-point tract on Conceptual Art to the tunes of The Star-Spangled Banner and Heaven, among other songs. The site is a rich resource for original materials. For example, it has sound files of the Russian futurists reading their poetry; Yves Klein’s performances from the blue period and fire paintings, one of the first Cindy Sherman’s super-8 films from 1975, and much, much more.
  • Ubuweb also has a section Ubu papers that contains contextual academic essays.
  • Here are other tools and sources that will be included in the instruction guide. By no means is this list exhaustive, that would be impossible. In fact, it can grow almost indefinitely, as more and more institutions undertake digitization of their original materials. If you come across a resource that you think should be added to Watsonline, pass it on to us and we’ll evaluate it and add it to our catalog. Brookly Daily Eagle. The Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence , in partnership with other Italian institutions, digitized a number of manuscripts and early printed books on a variety of subjects, including history of science, mathematics, perspective, and works by Galileo. Archivegrid – important gateway for searching through historical documents and personal papers held in the archives around the world. Thousands of libraries, archives, and museums contributed to Archivegrid, and Researchers searching ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and order copies. This tool is not presently available through watsonline, but you may access it onsite at New York Public Library or very likely at your college or university. Macbeth Gallery : exhibition catalogs of the Macbeth gallery, which y was the first New York gallery to specialize in American art and is historically important for exhibiting work by many American artists well-known to us today. Collect Britain : The rich selection of digitised historic content of the British Library’s collections, including the illuminated manuscripts and the Penny Illustrated Paper ECCO - a digital collection which includes full text access to over 30,000 English language and foreign language titles printed in the United Kingdom, along with thousands of important works from the Americas, between 1701 and 1800.
  • Finding Primary Sources

    2. 3. /
    3. 4. OED <ul><li>  16. In the context of academic research or writing: designating source material contemporary with the period or thing studied ; designating an original document, source, or text rather than one of criticism, discussion, or summary. </li></ul>
    4. 5. TYPES OF SOURCES <ul><li>NEWSPAPERS </li></ul><ul><li>PERSONAL PAPERS </li></ul><ul><li>LITERARY WORKS </li></ul><ul><li>MANUSCRIPTS </li></ul><ul><li>SOUND & VIDEO </li></ul>
    5. 6. <ul><li>Watsonline </li></ul><ul><li>Subscription Databases </li></ul><ul><li>( Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, </li></ul><ul><li>American Periodicals Series) </li></ul><ul><li>Free Web Resources </li></ul><ul><li>(Gallica, Perseus, WESSWeb, UbuWeb, Intute) </li></ul>
    6. 10. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers <ul><li>Time coverage : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1880-1910  1836-1922 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>States : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>California, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Utah, and Virginia </li></ul></ul>
    7. 17. American Periodicals Series <ul><li>Over 1,500 periodicals </li></ul><ul><li>1741-1900 </li></ul><ul><li>General interest, children’s publications and journals for women </li></ul><ul><li>118 periodicals published during the Civil War (1861-1865) and Reconstruction (1865-1877) eras </li></ul>
    8. 20. American Phrenological Journal , September 1865
    9. 21. GALLICA National Library of France <ul><li>http:// / </li></ul>
    10. 22. Daily press
    11. 23. Newspapers in Gallica
    12. 25. gallica
    14. 30. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    15. 35. Perseus Digital Library <ul><li>Greek and Roman materials </li></ul><ul><li>Renaissance materials </li></ul><ul><li>19 th -century American sources, including Richmond Times Dispatch </li></ul><ul><li>Arabic language documents </li></ul><ul><li>Germanic materials </li></ul><ul><li>Non-literary papyri from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods </li></ul>
    16. 36. Greek and Roman materials
    17. 38. Aristophanes, Lysistrata
    18. 39. Aristophanes, Lysistrata
    19. 41. Digitized manuscripts <ul><li>A selection of French literary manuscripts </li></ul><ul><li>The Tale of Genji and other Japanese manuscripts from the Edo period </li></ul><ul><li>Manuscripts from the Royal Archives of Korea </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval illuminated manuscripts </li></ul><ul><li>Manuscripts from Dunhuang </li></ul><ul><li>And more </li></ul>
    20. 46. <ul><li> / </li></ul>
    21. 50. Intute: Arts and Humanities: Visual Arts: Resource type
    22. 55. English emblem books
    23. 58. WESS WEB
    25. 61. UbuWeb
    26. 64. ubuweb
    27. 66. <ul><li>Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) </li></ul><ul><li>Institute and Museum of the History of Science (Italy) </li></ul><ul><li>Archivegrid </li></ul><ul><li>Macbeth Gallery catalogs (1895-1953) </li></ul><ul><li>British History Online </li></ul><ul><li>Collect Britain </li></ul><ul><li>Eighteenth Century Collections Online </li></ul><ul><li>NYPL Digital Gallery </li></ul>
    28. 67. Thank you for attending! <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Watson Library </li></ul><ul><li>Metropolitan Museum of Art </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>