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Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (HIST376)

This guide seeks to help students locate resources that will help them examine the history of women’s (and men’s) experience in early modern Europe through multiple perspectives (e.g. social, intellectual, and religious history) as they conduct research i

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources were either created during the time period being studied or were created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs).  They reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer.  Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period; some types of primary sources might be historical magazines or newspapers, diaries or journals, old photographs, interviews, letters, and more. A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or phenomenon.  It is generally at least one step removed from the event and is often based on primary sources.  Examples include:  scholarly or popular books and articles, reference books, and textbooks.

Key Search Terms to Find Primary Sources

All databases utilize taxonomies, or set ways to organize information. Many academic resources utilize controlled vocabularies developed by the Library of Congress. Their subject headings, or subject terms, are useful to learn and remember and make finding primary source material much easier.

Calvin's library catalog, and many of its databases, use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Below are several terms or phrases related to first-person accounts that you can add to a keyword or subject search that will significantly narrow your search results, saving you valuable time.

  • Personal Narratives
  • Correspondence
  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Manuscripts
  • Sources

Examples: (when searching do not include the dashes/hyphens)

  • Europe -- History -- 17th century -- Personal Narratives
  • Women -- Germany -- Social conditions -- 18th century -- Sources
  • Women -- England -- Diaries

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