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United States History

Primary Sources in BU Libraries Search

The search box on the main library webpage (use Advanced Search) is a good place to begin a search for primary sources. The library uses Library of Congress subject headings to classify the books in the collection and there are a number of Library of Congress subheadings that point to primary sources. They are:

  • correspondence
  • sources
  • diaries
  • personal narratives
  • interviews
  • speeches
  • documents
  • archives
  • early works to 1800

These terms can be used in a subject search or a keyword search. Examples of subject searches would be:

  • United States--History--War of 1812– Personal Narratives
  • Presidents--United States--Messages
  • Watergate Affair, 1972-1974-Sources

Examples of keyword searches would be:

  • Civil War and diaries
  • American Revolution and sources
  • Lyndon Johnson and interviews

Many primary documents are reprinted in published sources such as Documents of American History, Annals of America, and Speeches of the American Presidents and these and others are available in the library.

Primary Source Databases

Historical Newspapers and Periodicals

Print books

BU Archives


Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center

Instituted in 1963 as Special Collections and renamed in 2003 to honor its founder, the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is the repository for individuals in the fields of literature, criticism, journalism, drama, music, film, civil rights, diplomacy and national affairs.

Beginning with the sixteenth century, the historical collections include documents of United States presidents and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Other historical holdings include papers relating to the areas of military history, Eighteenth Century Americana, nursing history, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franz Liszt. There are also individual letters and documents from monarchs, writers and major historical figures.


Profile Photo
Donald Altschiller
Mugar Memorial Library
Subjects: History, Religion