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UCOR 1440-04: European Witch Hunts (Tracey Pepper)

Pointers for Searching the Library Catalog

Date: Check the date of original publication to see if it matches the type period you are studying. If there is an author for your work, check birth/death dates to see if  they correspond to the time period you are researching. (note: if the work is facsimile or reprint, you may have a primary source. Limiting sources to a specific date or date range  will help you to locate contemporary sources published at the time of an event.
Author: Search a person's name by author (not subject). With this search, you may find diaries, correspondence, personal narratives, etc..
Primary Source Words:   Often found in the subject heading of a record, here are some examples:
    • autobiographies
    • collected works
    • correspondence
    •  diaries
    • documents
    • facsimilies
    • interviews
    • journal
    • letters
    • manuscripts
    • memoirs
    • notebooks
    • pamplets
    •  personal narratives
    • sources
    • speeches.  

      Pair these terms with the appropriate keyword or subject heading. 

Print Primary Sources from our Catalog

What is a Primary Source?



 Original materials or records on a topic or event  that provide direct evidence or first-hand testimony. These records either by particpants or observers of events reflect a point of view at a particular time and allows the historian to study unfiltered evidence and critically develop an interpretation of the past

 Time: Can be sources created at the time of the event (e.g., letters and newspaper articles) or  after the event (e.g., memoirs, autobiographies or oral history interviews).

 Type:  May be published or unpublished.  Archives and manuscripts are unique, unpublished sources.

 Use: How the researcher uses the source generally determines whether it is a primary source or not.

What: Varies by discipline, but personal correspondence and diaries or papers  are considered to be primary sources by all disciplines.

   For the historian there are a wide range of sources for research. The list below are examples of some of those primary sources

  • First-hand Accounts: speeches, interviews; diaries, autobiographies
  • Accounts  first recorders of an event: Newspapers, Magazines, journal articles, books, and pamphlets written and published during a particular time period
  • Government documents are often a source of primary source material. They can include documents produced by a government agencies, treaties, census records, maps,  official  records (birth and marriage certificates), patents etc. 
  • Data such as census records or company financial records, real estate deeds.
  • Internal memorandum, email messages,  organizational records or legal documents of entities are used by historians as primary research material. 
  • Artifacts, objects such as pottery, architecture, coins, clothing, tombstones
  • Creative works produced at the time
  • Ephemera: brochures, pamphlets, postcards, programs, advertisements, etc.

   Distinguish primary sources from secondary and tertiary sources

Secondary sources are works that interpret the primary data. Examples would include a book examinging women leaders in the Civil Rights movement, or a journal article about the role of tobacco in Louisiana pre Civil War  economy, Tertiary sources, on the other hand, are even farther removed from the primary source. They are works that use secondary sources Encyclopedias are examples of tertiary sources.

 Find our more, What are Primary Sources?  Yale.

 First Steps: After doing some preliminary background information, think about what sources would serve your research need. 

  • What document sources would have have been created during this event? (Govenment documents, newspapers, diaries...etc). For example, if you choose a time period when newspapers were not a popular source of information, you would eliminate that format from consideration).
  •  What kind of information are you seeking?  Are you looking at laws and policy where public information would be an important source, or are you looking at the topic from the perspective of the participant?  In that case, you might want to search for diaries, correspondence, interviews, speeches, etc
  • In any event, there will be multiple participants and multiple perspectives. From which perspective, or lens do you want to direct your research?..



Primary Sources: Websites

eBook Primary Sources from our Catalog

Primary Sources: EEB0 (Early English Books Online

Here are some of the primary sources  that you will find in this database:

-  A true and just recorde, of the information, examination and confession of all witches taken at S. Oses in the County of Essex (Thomas Dawson, 1582)

-The discouerie of witchcraft  vvherein the lewde dealing of witches and witchmongers is notabale detected... (Excerpted from Reginald Scot, 1582)

-A dialogue concerning witches and witchcraftes  In which is laide open how craftely the Dieull deceiueth not onely the witches but many other and so leadeth them awry into many great errours.( Excerpted from George Gifford, 1593)

- Daemonologie in forme of a dialogue. (Excerpted from King James I, 1597)

- A discourse of the damned art of witchcraft  so farre forth as it is reuealed in the Scriptures, and  manifest by true experience. (William Perkins, 1608)

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Mary Linden Sepulveda

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Mary Sepulveda

Coordinator of Collection Development, Special Collections & Archives