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SPAN 3446: Venezuela: Robbery and Nature

Approaches to Finding Primary Sources

The "primaryness" of a source emerges in relation to the researcher's engagement with it. The UC Berkeley Libraries define primary sources as "either created during the time period being studied or...created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs)."

(source: Finding Historical Primary Sources: Getting Started, last updated 8/12/18,

When determining primary sources for your research, it's helpful to give yourself a historical context that defines your search. This could be a range of dates. It could also be determined by geographical sites of origin. You might also be interested in a specific type of source. Some examples include:

  • photographs
  • diaries
  • newspaper articles
  • advertisements
  • films
  • web sites
  • sound recordings
  • government documents
  • works of art

Databases and digital repositories can offer a multitude of paths to potential primary source material for your research. In addition, you might want to try searches in the CLIO catalog, limited by date of publication. 

Finding Primary Sources: Digital Collections for a Range of Source Types

Finding Primary Sources: Historical Newspapers, Magazines, and Other Serials


  • To search for access to a periodical with a title you know, type the title into the box and select Journal Title from the drop-down menu.
  • To browse periodicals published in a specific city or country, enter relevant search terms (you can use OR between them to expand results), and select Publication Place from the drop-down menu.


  • If you are looking for articles where a specific term or set of terms might appear, type them in and select Keywords from the drop-down menu.
  • Use * as a symbol for missing letters to search related terms. Enclose phrases in quotes.
  • For instance, for articles mentioning Puerto Rico and education, you may search "Puerto Rico" AND educ*
  • Once search results appear, use facet boxes on the left side of the screen to narrow down by publication date, content type, and other features.