Primary Sources - U.S. History Digital Collections

Searching for Primary Sources Online

The number of sites with primary sources is always growing. Google has search features that allow you to find relevant items.

Below is a search for primary sources on witches and witchcraft.

Key points to remember:

  • Use words and phrases that are commonly used for primary sources: correspondence, diaries, documents, letters, narratives, papers, primary sources, sources, and speeches. A librarian can help with generating these search terms.
  • Use quotation marks (" ") to search for phrases (exact words in an exact order).
  • Combine synonyms or similar terms with parentheses.
  • Use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard to find alternate word endings.
  • Exclude words with a hyphen (-). Think of it as subtracting a term from your search. (For example, witch* -Salem)
  • Use OR to search for either term (yes, it has to be in caps).
  • Use AND to retrieve results with with both words (again, all caps).
  • Limit your results to a specific domain:  site:.edu  (.edu and .org are domains that tend to have many primary sources)

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