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Primary Sources: How to Search

Three Ways to Search: Catalogs, Databases, Websites

Three great ways to find primary sources for your research:

1. Search the Library catalog.  

2. Search Cañada Library databases. 

3. Search Librarian recommended websites of major libraries, archives and museums.

Search Library Catalog

First, use the Advanced Key Word search feature.

Next, using the pull down arrow, select SUBJECT. Then enter one of these recommended subject headings. 

  • sources
  • personal narratives
  • diaries
  • correspondence
  • autobiography


The green tabs at the top of this Guide show major historical periods and topics. Under each, librarians have recommended websites with high quality primary sources in digital formats, and including captions, that you can use for free. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, and major university and museum collections are listed.


For a varied list of primary source websites make sure to check out the Montana State University Billings research guide on primary sources.


Search Cañada Library Databases: US & World History in Context

Search the World History in Context & U.S. History databases, available on campus or off campus using your library card, for primary sources available in digital format. Limit your searches to find only Primary Sources on your topic.


1. Select the advanced search option at the far right.

2. Type keywords for your topic in the boxes.

3. Scroll down the page to "by content type." Then arrow down to select Primary Sources. 

4. Now you're ready to get started by selecting a database below:

Search Cañada Library Databases: ARTstor

Want more help?

Librarians can help you find information for your research from many different sources.

Visit the library in person, get help on the phone, or email a librarian.

In Person
We are located on the Cañada College campus at 4200 Farm Hill Boulevard in Redwood City.

You can find us on the top floor of Building 9, above the Learning Center.

  • By Phone
    Reference: (650) 306-3480
  • Via Email

You can also schedule an APPOINTMENT to meet with a librarian one-on-one.


Profile & Guides

Hours (Fall and Spring)
Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Friday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.