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HIST 4690: Research Seminar (Ashbaugh) Fall 2022

Tips on Searching for Primary Sources

When searching for books or articles on your topic, use any of the following subject terms to narrow down your results to these primary sources:

  • Sources
  • Papers
  • Correspondence
  • Personal Narratives
  • Memoir
  • Diaries
  • Records
  • Speeches

Check the bibliographies of secondary sources you are using (including encyclopedia entries, periodical articles, etc.) as there will no doubt be primary sources cited there.  For more information, check out the Library's Primary Sources Guide.


Congressional Records, Committee Reports

Congressional Record: Microfilm, Subbasement, 1933 - 1956

House Foreign Affairs Committee: Search by legislation, committee reports, house communications, or meetings; documents go back to 1973.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Search by legislation, reports, treaty documents, communications, or meetings; documents go back to 1949.


National Security Archive 

Links to primary sources can be found by searching within the Documents tab.  Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, this archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents.

Office of the Historian: Historical Documents

The Office of the Historian is responsible, under law, for the preparation and publication of the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy in the Foreign Relations of the United States series.  This series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions. The series began in 1861 and contains documents from the Presidential libraries, Departments of State and Defense, National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Agency for International Development, and other foreign affairs agencies as well as the private papers of individuals involved in implementing U.S. foreign policy.

Foreign Relations of the United States

As part of the Digital Collections of the University of Wisconsin, this site offers almost a complete run of the Foreign Relations of the United States from 1861-1960.   


As a service of the U.S. Government Publishing Office, this site provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.  You can search documents alphabetically, by category, date, committee, or author.

World Digital Library

This site provides free access to manuscripts, rare books, maps, photographs, and other important cultural documents from all cultures and countries.