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History: Primary Sources

How to locate primary resources for historical research at the University of Oklahoma Libraries.

Ancient Texts

To find translations of ancient texts try searching Discover Local for:

- The language name and the truncated version of the word "translation."
For example: Sumerian translat*

- The words "ancient" "texts" and the truncated version of the word "translation."
For example: ancient texts translat*

- The language name and the phrase "translations into English."
For example: Egyptian "translations into English"

See this guide from the University of Kansas for hints on finding ancient Chinese sources. Search the titles mentioned by Kansas in Discover Local (the catalog)

Proxy URL

Some databases allow you to "bookmark" or "permalink" documents. If you are off campus, however, many of these links will not work, as they do not route you correctly through our servers (if at all). To correct that problem, add the following base URL text to the beginning of the "bookmark" or "permalink" URL if such text is not already present:

The modified URL will take you to the library's login screen if you are not already logged into our website, or to the bookmarked document if you are on-campus or have logged into our website.

Discover Local (Library's Catalog)

One way to find books (and other materials) that could be primary sources is to search Discover Local (the library's catalog). Try using your topic and one of these keywords:

  • archival materials
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • manuscripts
  • papers
  • personal narratives
  • sources 

For example, search these words in the catalog to find memoirs from the Spanish Civil War:  Spain personal narratives

Worldcat: Get Books from Other Libraries

Search the Worldcat database to find books held by other libraries. Worldcat is an international catalog of books and other materials owned by thousands of libraries.

You may borrow (interlibrary loan) materials through the Worldcat database. Interlibrary loan is free! But give yourself time for a book to come through the mail.

Please note that occasionally the Worldcat database indicates that the OU library owns an item when Discover Local (our catalog) does not list that item. Usually, the item has been reported lost or missing and is no longer available from our library. Please contact me if you have any questions:


Another way to find books from earlier time periods is to use a database. Most of the following databases contain digitized versions of books. Many of the individual titles in these databases are also listed in Discover Local.