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Uncovering the Past at the Library

Historians rely on primary sources to gain insight into the past. Primary sources are documents that provide original, time-specific accounts of historical events.

UNLV Libraries has a variety of physical and digital primary resources available to researchers. Such resources include:

  • Newspapers and popular periodicals (available online and on microfilm on the 2nd floor of Lied Library)
  • Government publications (2nd floor of Lied Library)
  • Archival and manuscript collections, including but not limited to letters, diaries, pamphlets, etc. (Special Collections, 3rd floor of Lied Library)
  • Photographs (Special Collections, 3rd floor of Lied Library)
  • Oral histories (Special Collections, 3rd floor of Lied Library)
  • Maps (2nd floor of Lied Library; online in Special Collections; Architectural Library)
  • Census material (microfilm and paper, 2nd floor of Lied Library; also available online)
  • Treatises, legal briefs, court decisions (Wiener-Rogers Law Library)

Primary sources are identified by their content, regardless of the form in which they occur. Thus, while letters found in Special Collections are primary sources and in their original form, a printed copy of an explorer's diary is also a primary source, though the diary you read is not the one that traveled with that explorer from place to place.

Historians use primary sources to craft secondary sources that analyze and interpret historical events. Examples of secondary sources include books and journal articles.

These resources can be used in combination to learn more about specific topics and develop historical arguments. Let's look at U.S. immigration policy in 1954 as an example.

Continue to Forced Deportation: U.S. Policy Toward Undocumented Workers, 1954 >>