Doing some background reading in a secondary source can often help you gather details about an issue (key dates, places, people and events) to inform your understanding of the topic, improve your primary source search vocabulary, and also provide you with ideas for relevant primary sources you might pursue.
Boston Tea Party/Revolutionary War
1. Official documents (e.g., laws, government and legal records): The Tea Act
2. Newspapers and other published works: To the Commissioners Appointed by the East India Company, Oct 14, 1773
3. Personal accounts of participants or observers (e.g., letters, diaries, published narratives and memoirs, ): A retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party : with a memoir of George R.T. Hewes, a survivor of the little band of patriots who drowned the tea in Boston Harbour in 1773
Slavery & Anti-Slavery
4. Speeches/public addresses: An address delivered before the old colony Anti-Slavery Society, July 4, 1839
6. Organizational documents/records: Five years' abstract of transactions of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, 1853
7. Advertisements/public announcements: A Runaway in Custody, Maryland Herald, Oct. 2, 1800
Along with your topic words, include a term that might be used to describe an online primary source collection, such as: "primary sources," sources, documents, "primary documents"
Evaluate host websites carefully. Look for reputable academic or historical organizations with high quality facsimiles or transcriptions that are properly documented/cited.
Once inside a primary source collection, search using terms that would have been used in the historical period you are studying. For example: Boston Griffins Wharf vs. Boston Tea Party, Negro vs. African American.
Limit search results to a specific date range when you have the option to do so.
No idea where to start? Try a historical newspaper or government document collection - they will support most topics.
Use the MRU LibrarySearch tool to find information in all formats, including books, journal articles, and reference/background sources simultaneously. You will find both primary and secondary sources in LibrarySearch.
Still looking for information or overwhelmed by LibrarySearch results?
America History and Life is a database dedicated to journals related to North American history.
Try the Advanced Search, where you can: