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21H.260: Cities in the Middle East: History, Politics and Society: Find Historical Primary Sources

Using the Library Catalog to Find Primary Sources

To find book primary sources, use library catalogs like Barton and WorldCat.

  • Do subject searches for topic + genre:
    • Subheadings such as "correspondence," "sources," "personal narratives," "pictorial works," "biography," and "speeches" can point to primary sources.
    • Pair these subheadings with keywords or topical subject headings in Barton to identify relevant sources in the MIT Libraries.
    • See this table for other possible subheadings.
    • For example, do this advanced search to get first-hand accounts by Iranians or from Iran:
      • Keyword = Iran* [This will search for "Iran," "Iranian," "Iranians"]
      • Subject words = "Personal narratives"
  • Do advanced searches in Barton for relevant subjects and keywords with publication date limits.
    • For example, do this advanced search to find books about the Six-Day War that were published at that time:
      • Subject keywords = "Israel-Arab War, 1967 " [you can figure out that subject phrase for the Six-Day War by first doing a keyword search]
      • Year from = 1967
      • Year to = 1968

Digital Primary Sources at MIT

Free Primary Sources on the Internet

Primary Sources at Nearby Libraries

Subject Guide

Ece Turnator's picture
Ece Turnator
Ece (pronounced AJ)

Tip: Follow the Footnotes!

It's not cheating to check the footnotes and bibliographies in your secondary and reference sources (books, journal articles, and encyclopedias) to identify primary sources for your own work. Following footnotes is an approach used by many scholars to identify not only relevant seconary literature, but also primary source bases.