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Primary Sources

Finding Books in Special Collections at SDSU

Special Collections and University Archives houses rare, fine, unique, and valuable books, periodicals, manuscripts, and documents which require security and care in handling. Other valuable historical materials such as photographs, prints, postcards, memorabilia, scrapbooks, and oral histories are also held in Special Collections. Our materials are easy to find in the library catalog.

1. In the catalog, type in your keyword(s).
2. Under Tweak Your Results, scroll down to Library and select Special Collections.
3. You can limit your search by Resource TypeLanguage, and even Publication Date.
4. Sort the Search Results by RelevanceYear, or Title. The Year option is particularly helpful for Special Collections materials.
5. Browse results.

Example: If you were looking for primary sources from or about the Civil War, type the keywords "civil war" and "United States" into the keyword search boxes (with quotes). Click on Search. Select "Special Collections" under Library. Results include archival collections, maps, and books. Sort your results by year, and go to the last page to view sources produced during or around the Civil War (1861-1865) held in Special Collections. Try adding keywords like "speech," "correspondence," "letters," or "narrative" to refine your search.