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Queen's University Library

Primary source material is a key part of historical research. A primary source is a document in which an event is described by its witnesses. Some examples are: diaries, letters, speeches, letters, interviews, newspapers, autobiographies, official records including government documents, pamphlets, photographs, films, art, novels, music, furniture, clothing, buildings, and jewelry.

A secondary source interprets and analyses primary sources. Secondary sources are one step removed from the event. Some examples are: textbooks, journal articles, histories, criticism, commentaries and encyclopedias.

To find books in our collection, search QCAT by author, title, subject headings, or keyword.

To find books by a particular author/person, search QCAT by author:
goethe johann wolfgang von
To find books about a particular author/person, search QCAT by subject heading:
brecht bertolt
mann thomas
To find books on a topic, use a keyword search if you do not know the correct subject heading for a topic. Think of the focus (or key) words that describe your topic:
goethe and faust
picaresque and german
goethe and faust and (creativity or imagination)
Select useful titles and look at the full record for subject headings.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749-1832
Check heading Criticism and Interpretation for general works
Scroll forward to works on individual titles such as Faust
Example of subject headings by genre and century:
German poetry -- 19th century -- History and criticism
Example of subject by movement:
Sturm und Drang movement
Example of subject by history:
Social conflict -- Germany -- History
To find bibliographies on a topic, look for the subdivision bibliography following a subject heading:
Germany--Social conditions--Bibliography
To find primary sources in the library, look for the subdivision sources following a subject heading.

Last Updated: 13 August 2009

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