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Jewish studies: Primary Sources

Introduction to Monash University Library resources for Jewish studies

Primary source collections

Primary sources are documents or objects that were written or created at the time under investigation. They provide first-hand accounts or personal viewpoints of an event or time period. They can be as diverse as an eyewitness account, diary entry, newspaper report, or an interview of an event that reflects the time period in which it was conducted. The History library guide contains descriptions of the online collections of primary sources relevant to particular areas of history listed under the relevant tabs. For further information on finding and using primary sources, please see the Primary sources for humanities library guide.

The Library holds a collection of primary source materials in different formats: books and dvds, online collections, and in microfilm or microfiche.

Primary sources can be found using:

  • Search, the Library catalogue
  • online databases
  • newspapers
  • microfilm collections
  • Monash University Library's Rare Books collection

An extensive list of all the databases covering both primary and secondary materials in all areas of history is also available.

Visit the Library Information Desk or contact your Subject Librarian for further advice.

Rare Books Collection

The Rare Books Collection at Monash University Library contains an excellent collection of primary sources in both printed and manuscript form that can be viewed in the Rare Books Reading Room.

Use the Advanced Search function and refine your Search scope to the Rare Books Collection:

The Rare Books Collection and Reading Room is located in the Matheson Library and is open from Monday to Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm. For further enquiries, please come and speak to us in the Reading Room or call tel: +61 3 9905 5054.

Find primary sources using Search

Use Search to find some of the primary source materials held in the Monash University Library collection.

Go to Advanced Search.

Change the default any to in subject

Type in one of the following:







"personal narratives"

In the next box type a keyword that describes your topic.

Change the Search Scope from All resources to Library Collections

Search will retrieve items in the Library collection that have been identified by the cataloguers as being primary source materials and given a Subject Heading as listed above.  You may need to try a number of searches. For example if you were looking for writings by early settlers in Australia that described their relationships with Australian Aborigines, you could search as follows:

Primary source search 1

The asterisk retrieves all the words which start with aborig, ie: aboriginal and aborigines. The quotation marks around "personal narratives" ensures that the two words are found as a phrase.

Then you could try a search for diaries:

Primary source search 2

Another search which is less specific but may possibly retrieve useful information is to use the broader term sources and add 18* in an attempt to limit it to material from the early settlers in the nineteenth century.

Primary source search 3

The search retrieves catalogue records with sources in the Subjects field.

Primary source search 4

These searches will only retrieve materials identified by the terms in the Subjects field. There may be other primary source materials in the Library collection which have not been identified in this way, and they may only be retrieved by a search on the keywords that describe your topic.

Primary source databases for Jewish studies

These databases and websites contain first-hand accounts of witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust.

USC Shoah Foundation Visual history archive

With a collection of nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses, in 32 languages and from 56 countries, this is the largest visual history archive in the world.

Testaments to the Holocaust

Testaments to the Holocaust is the online publication of the archives of the Wiener Library, London, the first archive to collect evidence of the Holocaust and the anti-semitic activities of the German Nazi Party. 75% of the collection is written in German. For help navigating the database, clink on the link entitled: Testaments to the Holocaust Resources.

Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust

Provided by the British Library, these recordings are powerful personal accounts of the Holocaust from Jewish survivors living in Britain. The collection contains interviews from two oral history projects, the Living Memory of the Jewish Community (C410) and the Holocaust Survivors' Centre Interviews (C830). 

Telling their stories

This website from the Urban School of San Francisco provides student interviews with Holocaust survivors and refugees.

Holocaust Survivors

This website includes stories of Holocaust survivors, interviews and family photographs.


Post-war Europe : refugees, exile and resettlement, 1945-1950

This online archive covers the politics and administration of the refugee crisis in Europe after World War II as well as the day-to-day survival of the refugees themselves.