You can enhance your searches in Mirlyn or other library catalogs or databases by using subject terms that describe materials by format. For example, if you enter your topic as a keyword (i.e., in the “all fields” field) in Mirlyn’s advanced search, you can also add subject terms that will specify a type of material related to that topic.
Be sure to capitalize the word AND in order to search for both word or phrase choices. You can also add date ranges (e.g., 19th century) and geographic regions (Africa) as subject terms to focus in on the time period or area you are researching.
Additional subject terms that specify potential primary source formats include:
You can also refine your search results to relevant time periods by using Mirlyn's Advanced Search. Enter numbers into the "Year of Publication" fields to refine your search results. For example, if you need primary sources from 1863, limit the date of your sources to that year or a range of years close to it to get a better set of search results.
The University Library owns or subscribes to many specialized collections of primary sources available in an online format. To identify such collections, begin with Search Tools (found in the upper right corner of any web page on the library's web site).
At the Search Tools search page, type the words: "primary source" into the input box and choose Anywhere from the dropdown menu. (see below)
Click on the link to any collection of interest or click on More search options to narrow results by subject terms, organization names, etc.
The University of Michigan holds both extensive and specialized collections which support research with primary sources. These include:
University Library Special Collections Library
The Special Collections Library in the Hatcher Library building holds internationally renowned collections of books, serials, manuscripts, posters, playbills, photographs, and original artwork.
Bentley Historical Library
The Bentley Historical Library includes both the official University of Michigan archives and materials related to the history of the state.
The Clements Library's collections document all aspects of North America prior to the twentieth century. Its holdings are particularly strong in early exploration and settlement of North America, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War.
This collection includes artists books, limited edition monographs and facsimiles with special strengths in architecutre.
An archives is a place where primary source historical documents are collected, maintained and preserved. An archival collection usually emphasizes non-book information sources such as photos, correspondence, and other objects that provide information or evidence.
A manuscript is a written document, and a manuscript collection usually consists of letters, drafts, journals, etc. Often, archival and manuscript collections are cataloged at a collection level, and researchers employ finding aids to discover the contents of a particular collection.
Our Finding Archives and Manuscripts research guide is an excellent source for locating these types of collections.
Additional subject terms for visual items may be found in the Library of Congress' Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM). The Clements Library uses this tool to help make visual items discoverable. The thesaurus contains over 7,000 subject terms and 650 genre/format terms for pictures including photos, prints, drawings, and ephemera. The TGM is searchable through the Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.