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Find Primary Sources

Many of the primary sources for the research assignment in this course are available in print or electronically in MRU Library.

Find them via LibrarySearch (search box on the MRU Library homepage).

  • Search by source title. Use the drop-down menus on the results screen to search in the title of sources.
  • Look for results where the name of the author of your primary source appears directly below the item title. This is called the author field. This will help you distinguish between primary sources (written BY your author), and secondary sources (written ABOUT your author).
  • Use the filters on the right side of the screen, try the author/creator filter, then select your primary source author's name.
  • Filter by resource type of book - most primary sources from this time period available at MRU take the form of BOOKS (this includes print and electronic books).
  • Keep in mind that with older primary sources, like ones from the Renaissance, author names may have undergone various spellings over the years. Primary sources may also have variant titles and spellings. A good reference work on your source or author can help you identify variants (see below for suggestions).
If MRU Library doesn't own your primary source, try these options:

Or ask the history librarian for help - see contact info in side panel.

Strategies for identifying key and current research on your topic

​​​​​​Look for "seed documents" to introduce you to key authors and publications on your topic/theory/primary text author. 

Follow citation trails

  • Look in Google Scholar for "cited by" results for the titles you discovered above, then limit to more recent citations. 
  • Pursue the citation trails in LibrarySearch to see what other texts a source has cited, and also who has cited it. Note that in LibrarySearch, this is possible only for journal articles, book results are not included. 

Recommended Reference Sources

Advice on Search Terms for Secondary Sources

The Library research tools use specific terms or subject headings (similar to hash tags) to tag, describe and organize books and articles on particular topics. Below are some of the subject headings (or library #hashtags) that relate to your course topics. Try adding the following headings to your own search terms to improve the relevance of your results.

  • Historiography
  • Renaissance
  • History to 1500
  • History 16th century
  • History 15th century
  • History 1450 1600
  • Monarchy, kings, rulers
  • Politics 
  • Government
  • Humanism
  • Religion OR Piety OR Christianity

Finding Secondary Sources

Find scholarly books and articles using MRU's LibrarySearch

  • On the library homepage, use the Books, articles & more box.

  • To to find scholarly journal articles, check "peer-reviewed" on the right side of the screen.

  • To find books, filter by "resource type" to "books" on the right side of the screen.

  • Try the Advanced Search option, and use the drop-down menus to search for important search terms in the Subject or Titles of library items.

Finding and Accessing Books & Articles in MRU's LibrarySearch 5:32 min

Find Secondary Sources in a HIstory-Specific Database

How to find secondary sources in the database Historical Abstracts
2 minutes

Accessing Materials Beyond MRU Library

Find something in Historical Abstracts or elsewhere, but MRU doesn't seem to own it?

  • Place an interlibrary loan request and we will find a library who can provide it for you. Note that during COVID, some print books and other physical materials may not be available via interlibrary loan, but most journal articles are. 
  • Try Google Scholar


If MRU Doesn't Own Your Primary Source

Renaissance Journals

Try searching within a journal specific to Renaissance history.

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Alice Swabey
Drop-in help Mondays 12-2 at the Library Service Desk. Appointments available via Google Meet or in-person. Email help is also available.