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Ethnic Studies 302: Professional Orientation, Fall 2019: Primary Sources

Instructor: Coronado

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be found in a variety of library tools:

For specific search strategies, see the Library's Guide to Finding Historical Primary Sources

Learn more about your topic in advance:

  • names of relevant individuals and organizations
  • dates of events
  • places
  • what terminology was used at the time by participants and observers? (ex:  negro or colored instead of african american)

Use the bibliographies of secondary sources and reference sources to find citations to specific primary sources; search OskiCat to locate them on campus, or ask for assistance at the Library.

Visiting the Bancroft Library

The Bancroft Library is one of the treasures of the campus, and one of the world's great libraries for the history of the Bancroft Library interiorAmerican West and Mexico.

Some Bancroft materials are available online via Calisphere, which also includes primary sources from many other California libraries and museums. Bancroft also maintains additional digital resources.

Before you go:

  1. Be prepared! Read secondary sources and know something about your topic.
  2. Register as a researcher. Registration is free and takes just a few minutes using the Aeon online registration form to register in advance. For more information, see the Aeon guide.
  3. Search OskiCat to locate materials in Bancroft. You can use the pull-down menu in OskiCat to limit your search to the Bancroft Library only. (Remember that there are primary sources in many other campus libraries as well.)
    • It is recommended that you request your materials in advance of your visit and to submit your request at least one week prior to your visit to Bancroft.  You must have an Aeon account to request materials.  For more information please visit the Aeon guide.
    • If the OskiCat record mentions a finding aid (an index) to a manuscript collection, you should use it to help you find what you need in the collection.  If the finding aid is online, there will be a link from the OskiCat record. The finding aids that are not online are near the Registration Desk at the Bancroft Library. You can also search for Bancroft finding aids in the Online Archive of California.
  4. Before you go, plan your visit (and bring a quarter for lockers).

During your visit:

  1. Store your belongings in the lockers provided, located on the right-hand side of the east entrance. Pass the security guard station and proceed up one level by stairs or elevator to the Reading Room and Seminar Rooms (3rd floor).
  2. Check in at the Registration Desk, located on the left-hand side of the entrance to the Reference Center.
  3. Go to the Circulation Desk, where you can pick up the materials you pre-ordered.  That is also where you will request additional materials during your visit. 
  4. For research-related questions, ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.

How to Get to the Bancroft Library

The Bancroft is open from 10am to 5pm Monday-Friday (closed on weekends and holidays; shorter hours during the summer and Intersession).  Paging ends 30 minutes before closing; this means that if you want to use Bancroft materials until 5pm, you need to arrive and request your materials at the circulation desk before 4:30pm.

The Bancroft Library is on the second floor of Doe, on the east side (the side closest to the Campanile). See a floor plan of Doe Library 2nd floor (pdf).

Sample Searches - OskiCat

lesbian*.     (pull down "Entire Collection" menu to Bancroft Library)

click on added title:  Sexuality and Gender collection


chican* or latino* or latina*.   (pull down "Entrire Collection" menu to Archival collections - BUT you will also retrieve UC Berkeley dissertations this way)

Finding Archival Collections

Also try:

  • finding references in secondary sources
  • searching OskiCat and limiting to "archival materials" (in the "entire collection" menu)

Primary Sources - Government Information, Census and Polls

Records of government agencies

  • Search the library catalogs:   OskiCat or MELVYL  (about) by the name of the government agency as organizational author

Congressional information

Lexis-Nexis Congressional includes:

  • Bills and Laws 1789-present
  • Congressional hearings: 1824-present
  • Committee Prints:
  • 1817 - present
  • CRS Reports (good places to start): 1916 - present
  • Hearings 1817-present
  • House & Senate reports and documents: 1817 - present
  • Legislative Histories 1969-present
  • Serial Set 1789-present, including maps
  • Congressional Record and its predecessors: 1789-2001

United States Census

See the UCB Library guide about the US Census


Public Opinion Polls

Supreme Court cases

See UCB Library guide:  US Judicial Branch (Courts)

Opinions:     by year


Making of Modern Law: US Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978

A fully searchable collection of briefs and other documents related to cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court.  It contains over 150,000 cases and 350,000 documents.  Search results are linked to the actual full-text PDF documents.

Lexis-Nexis Academic (Supreme Court briefs 1936 - onwards).

click on Advanced Options; in the window that appears, next to Source, enter    U.S. Supreme Court Case Briefs; accept the suggested text; click on Apply

back at the search screen, enter your additional search terms; your search will be limited to Supreme Court briefs.

 Oral arguments:

    • Oyez Project:  Audio recordings of oral arguments before Supreme Court 1968 - 2010
      • selective before 1968 and after 2010
      • Briefs and opinions also selectively available.
    • Supreme Court of the US official web site:  transcripts of oral arguments 2000 - present
      • audio of oral arguments 2010 - present
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