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AFROAMER/GWS 625: Gender, Race, & Civil Rights (Spring 2022) : Books

Finding Books

Books may be or contain primary sources, depending on how you use the book. 

Primary source books are personal narratives, memoirs, and autobiographies, collected works, and collections of documents. These may be published at the time or compiled and published at a later time.  

Additionally, pamphlets or flyers can be valuable primary sources. These are often found in the library catalog along with more traditional books. 


 Use the tips below to search the Library Catalog for books that contain primary sources.

  • Words in catalog records can identify an item as a primary source. Search for format related words like: advertisements, autobiographies, correspondence, diaries, documents, interviews, journal, letters, manuscripts, memoir, personal narratives, sources, speeches, etc. You can combine a primary-source format word with words describing your topic (e.g., letters and Mary Church Terrell, or Black Panthers and pamphlet).
  • Use the "Years" dropdown to filter results to those published during a period of time.

Using the Catalog & Accessing Books

This video demonstrates how to search for and recognize primary sources in the UW-Madison Libraries Catalog. Remember to think about your keywords before searching.

Note - two search techniques are demonstrated in the video, the second starts at 2:40.

On This Page

This page highlights using books as primary sources. You can find books in both print and electronic format in the Library Catalog. See the page below for the most up-to-date info on using the libraries in person:

In addition, you can find books in a number of library databases, as shown in the E-book Collections box. Take care to think about how you are using these sources - whether you're using them for secondary source context and analysis or primary source information.

Library Catalog