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Drama: Tutorial - DRA2045: Finding & using library resources: Primary Source Databases

You may need to search primary sources collections for your assignment. The library subscribes to a large number of primary source collections.

Find Primary Sources using...

You can use Library Search to find books and journal articles written during particular  time periods, e.g. what was written about travel during the nineteenth century:

Go to Library Search.

  • In the Catalogue or Articles + more tab, click on Advanced Search
  • Type in your search terms next to the Keyword option e.g. travel
  • In the year boxes, enter the year or range of years e.g. After 1800 and before 1901


To find autobiographies, diaries, memoirs, letters, interviews, speeches:

  • In the Catalogue or Articles + more tab, click on Advanced Search
  • If you know the name of the individual, enter this in the Keyword box e.g. Churchill
  • If not, enter the topic of interest e.g. Spanish Civil War
  • In the next Keyword field add a primary source, e.g. letters
  • Run your search, e.g. Spanish Civil War and (diaries or letters or interviews)

Be aware that searching for biography will result in both biographies and autobiographies.

The University has access to a wide range of online primary sources and archival collections. These contain digitised copies of documents, letters, books, photographs and other primary sources. Some archival collections are freely available online.

To explore these resources use the A-Z database list. Filter the database type field to Primary Source to see the full list. Add a subject i.e. History as a filter to refine the list. You can also search for Archives and further refine by subject.


It's worth remembering that not everything you require will be available online!

You may need to make research trips to access physical material as well. Don't forget the Library's Special Collections holds primary source material you can use, and there are other local collections you can explore.

Primary Sources databases

There are so many online primary source collections it can be difficult to know where to start. Defining your parameters before you start searching can help you identify the most relevant databases to search.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What date period are you interested in?
  • What is the geographical location?
  • Are you looking for a specific format or type of content?
  • Is there a particular theme you are researching?

​Click on the links below to find primary sources that have been sorted into various categories.


Click here to find information on using archival news sources for research.

Archival news sources

A wide range of archival news sources are available at the University.   

To access these resources, choose the News type in the A-Z Database List.  
You can browse through the listing to see the wide range of news resources that are available to you.  

Find out more by visiting the Archival News Sources LibGuide.


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