Keyword Searching in Catalogs
You can use keywords that denote personal experiences from the time period. For example, you could check for someone's autobiography, letters, diaries, etc.
If one searches for women and diaries and pioneers, one will retrieve several books containing diaries.
Subject Searching in Catalogs
One can use Library of Congress Subject Headings to browse subjects and identify primary sources. Some of the subheadings are:
Sources is a particularly important subheading that follows topics, events, etc.