Finding Primary Source Articles

So you've been trying to use primary sources in your research. Maybe you found some great historical documents or speeches. But now you'd like to include some historical images and articles. Read on! (If you need more background about primary sources, start with our blog post Help! I Need to Find Primary Sources!)

There are many places to find historical newspaper and magazine articles. The Historical Oregonian has local newspaper articles from 1861-1987. You’ll also find all the advertisements, photographs, and other images that appeared in the newspaper’s pages. This allows readers to see what life was really like in a certain time period, from world events to the cost of groceries. Image of old newspaper The New York Times Historical is another good source for U.S. and international news articles. The National Geographic Virtual Library has articles, maps, images and ads from National Geographic magazine, covering the years 1888-1994. All three of these resources require a Multnomah County library card number and PIN.

If your library card’s gone missing, you can find articles from other newspapers in Oregon by searching Historic Oregon Newspapers or newspapers from around the country at the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site.

One thing to keep in mind when looking for primary sources: these materials come from different time periods, and they reflect the attitudes and language used at the time.  Articles, images and advertisements from the past may use stereotypes or words that are now considered offensive.  And sometimes primary sources may use out-of-date words: cars may be called automobiles or glasses may be referred to as spectacles, for example.

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

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