BOOKS AS PRIMARY SOURCES
- The word "book" can refer to two things.
(1) "Book" can refer to a bibliographic entity printed and published at a particular
time and place and as such, potentially reflective of the society, culture, historical
period, or other circumstances under which it was created.
- You're studying Jefferson's political thought and want to know what books
he owned. (Consult: Library of Congress. Catalogue of the library of Thomas
Jefferson compiled with annotations by E. Millicent Sowerby. Charlottesville:
U. of Virginia, 1983. 5 v.)
- You're studying how the Confederacy built an image or an identity and want
to know what books were published in the South during the Civil War. (Consult:
Parrish, T. Michael. Confederate imprints : a bibliography of Southern
publications from secession to surrender: expanding and revising the earlier
works of Marjorie Crandall & Richard Harwell / by T. Michael Parrish &
Robert M. Willingham, Jr. Austin, Tex.: Jenkins Pub. Co. ; Katonah, N.Y. :
G.A. Foster, [ca.1984]
- You're studying Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution and
want to know whether there were books or pamphlets published in England concerning
"the madness of King George". (Consult: the Eighteenth Century Short
Title Catalog , available through the English
Short Title Catalogue)
- (2) "Book" can also refer colloquially to the physical format of material
-- a bound volume -- whose contents derive from manuscript or early printed
originals. Here, "book" refers to the nature of the physical container, rather
than to the nature of its contents. In this context, "books" can be facsimiles
or printed transcriptions of original documents:
"Books" can also be collections of such transcriptions:
- A copy of Marco Polo's account of his travels to the Orient, annotated by
Christopher Columbus ( Polo, Marco, 1254-1323. Travels of Marco Polo. Spanish.
El libro de Marco Polo / anotado por Cristobal Colon. El libro de Marco
Polo / version de Rodrigo de Santaella ; edicion, introduccion y notas de Juan
Gil. Madrid : Alianza, c1987.)
- The journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition ( The journals of the
Lewis and Clark Expedition / Gary E. Moulton, editor. [Lincoln] : University
of Nebraska Press, c1983- 1990 9v.)
The ways in which one searches for these two types of "books" differs.
- Documents of the English Reformation / edited by Gerald Bray. Cambridge
: James Clarke, 1994.
- Major problems in the era of the American Revolution, 1760-1791 : documents
and essays / edited by Richard D. Brown. Lexington, Mass. : D.C. Heath,
- American intelligence and the German resistance to Hitler : a documentary
history / edited by Jurgen Heideking and Christof Mauch with the assistance
of Marc Frey. Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1996.
BOOKS PUBLISHED CONTEMPORANEOUSLY WITH THE EVENT
To identify books contemporaneously published, use one of the following types
For more information on these types of bibliographies, specific to a particular
country and time period, see Bibliographic
tools for research in history.
- National bibliographies, which identify works published in
a particular country during a particular time period, as they're published.
- Retrospective bibliographies , which are compiled at a point
in time later than the original appearance of the items included, with the intention
of being a comprehensive record of publishing. These bibliographies are often
of two types: subject bibliographies and period bibliographies
FACSIMILES OR VERBATIM TRANSCRIPTIONS OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS: SELECTED
To search for facsimiles or verbatim transcriptions of original documents,
search Orbis by Subject:
- [Name of manuscript]--Facsimiles
- [Type of manuscript, e.g. Diaries]--Bibliography
COMPILATIONS OR COLLECTIONS OF MANUSCRIPTS OR EARLY PRINTED DOCUMENTS:
To search for compilations or collections of manuscripts or early printed documents,
search Orbis by Subject:
- [Name of country]--History--[Time period]--Sources
- [Name of state]--History--[Time period]--Sources
This material is based on the Web site created to support a series of colloquia
in historical research offered by the Yale University Library. The initial site
was prepared in August 1996 by Suzanne Lorimer, Susanne Roberts, Margaret Powell,
George Miles, Fred Musto, Emily Horning, Cesar Rodriguez, Nancy Godleski, Richard
Williams, Elizabeth Pauk, and Martha Brogan.
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