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Primary sources for humanities: Finding sources

A guide to primary sources for humanities at Monash University Library

Getting started

You can find primary source materials in a variety of places

  • Search the library collections for print, microform and online sources
  • Look at the relevant tab of this guide for your area of study 
  • Look at the footnotes in secondary sources you're reading

And contact the subject librarian for assistance if you need help

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

1. Go to Advanced Search.

2. Change the default any to in subject

3. Use any of the below terms, which will bring up primary sources:

  • sources
  • diaries
  • correspondence
  • trials
  • pamphlets
  • manuscripts
  • "personal narratives"

Combine them with OR to search for more than one 'type' of primary source.

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

5. Change the Search Scope from All resources to Library Collection

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:

Screenshot of search results

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