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English 200A - Methods & Materials of Literary Research

Primary Sources for Literature Scholars

Primary Sources are original pieces of work.  They differ in content and format depending on the particular discipline you are researching.  Secondary sources are articles, books, essays, and other works written about primary sources. 

For Literature Scholars, primary sources can be

  • The original manuscripts of a creative work, such as a novel or a collection of poetry. 
  • A published work that is both original and creative, such as a published novel, an anthology of poems, a play, or a film.
  • Letters or other correspondence, diaries, journals, autobiographies, memoirs, legal or other official documents. 
  • Newspaper articles written by journalists who have witnessed an event

Examples of primary sources include:

  • ​Clemens, Olivia Langdon and Dixon Wecter.  The Love Letters of Mark Twain.  Harper, 1949.
  • Stanton, Sam. "Black Lives Matter protest clashes with police backers Protest comes one day after deputy was shot to death." Sacramento Bee, 8 Oct. 2018,  p. 1A+. 

  • Ireland, William H. Scribbleomania; Or The Printer's Devil's Polichronicon: A Sublime Poem.  London, 1815.

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Use One Search to find primary texts in our Library .

For an author's search - search by author's last name first, followed by first name.

For a title search - search by title (if you don't know the exact title, do a keyword search for the words in the title you remember).


Search World Cat to find resources held in other Libraries.  Links to InterLibrary Services are embedded in World Cat records.