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Introduction to Primary Source Research

Basic information on doing research using primary sources

UC Berkeley digital collections

"Are you a Victory Canner?" Poster from the National War Garden Commission,1918UC Berkeley Library subscribes to several databases that include primary sources. You will find them on our A-Z Database List.

Select the Database Type  - Archival Collections and Primary Sources.

For other digital collections, check out the links to online primary sources in our many other guides.

Use the search term "primary sources."


UC Berkeley Library's Digital Collections portal provides online access to the Library’s rare and unique digitized special collections, books, manuscripts, images, photographs, newspapers, and more.

Tips on searching primary source databases

Use terminology of the time or country when doing full-text searches, especially within newspaper databases.


  • African American, Black, Colored, etc.
  • Suffragette, Suffragist
  • Belgian Congo, Zaire, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Burma, Myanmar
  • Siam, Thailand


Text-mining and digitized primary sources

Are you working on a Digital Humanities project? Have you tried Gale's Digital Scholar Lab? This cloud-based tool includes several text-mining tools that you can use to analyze many of Gale's digitized primary sources that UC Berkeley holds.