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International Studies

This guide lists American University Library databases and print resources, and free Web sites that are of use to the study and research of International Studies.

Finding Primary Source Documents in Library Catalogs Using Subject Headings (Video)

These two videos show how to find primary source documents using the library's catalog

The first video shows how to do a Library of Congress SUBJECT HEADINGS search. (3:00)

The second video shows how to search the person as AUTHOR. (1:07)

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Doing an AUTHOR Search in Library Catalog (Video)

Another way to find primary source documents is to search the person as AUTHOR in the library's catalog

Searching the person's name as AUTHOR will retrieve books written by the person, which means you will read that person's account and perspective on events nd ideas.

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Finding Primary Source Documents in Library Catalogs (Screen Capture)

Here are tips for finding primary source documents in the library's catalog.

  1. Using Library of Congress SUBJECT HEADINGS. 
    These set terms, which is a controlled vocabulary describe what the book is about.  Among the most useful Library of Congress subject headings for finding primary source documents are:
    • sources - These books are collections of primary source documents, such as historical documents, government documents and speeches.
    • personal narratives - These are first hand accounts of the events written or told by individuals who witnessed or participated in them.  Most are memoirs.
    • interviews - These are either books or documentary videos.
    • law and legislation - These books are collections of laws.
  2. Search the person as AUTHOR in the catalog.
    Searching the person's name as AUTHOR will retrieve books written by the person, which means you will read that person's account and perspective on events and ideas.  In comparison, searching the person's name as KEYWORD will retrieve books about the person. 

To find the appropriate SUBJECT HEADINGS in the catalog:

STEP 1.

Do a KEYWORD search on the subject and add one of the primary source subject headings.  Use quotation marks for exact phrases. 

For example: "iraq war" and sources.

STEP 2.

Then select a relevant title.

STEP 3

Click on the appropriate SUBJECT HEADING to see more titles about the same subject.

STEP 4.

From this SUJECT HEADINGS list, browse to find relevant subject headings with primary source documents.

Examples of SUJBECT HEADINGS with primary source documents, include Sources and Statistics.

Books with the "Sources" SUBJECT HEADING are collections of primary source documents, such as historical documents, government documents and speeches.

Personal narratives.  These books are first hand accounts of the events written or told by individuals who witnessed or participated in them.  Most are memoirs.

Interviews.  These tend to be either books or documentary videos.

Law and legislation.  These books are collections of laws.


Another way to find primary source documents in the library catalog is to search the person as AUTHOR in the catalog.

Searching the person's name as AUTHOR will retrieve books written by the person, which means you will read that person's account and perspective on events and ideas.

For example, search "putin" as AUTHOR.  You will retrieve books written by Vladimir Putin.

In comparison, searching "putin" as KEYWORD will retrieve books about Vladimir Putin.