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REL 495: Senior Seminar: Primary Sources

Armacost Holdings

To search Armacost's holdings, you will need to utilize two search strategies. Each strategy will locate items not found by the other search strategy--WorldCat records (of our titles) are more complete, but Armacost has more of our records than WorldCat.

To search WorldCat records of Armacost titles,

  1. Log into WorldCat
  2. Do a subject search in conjunction with a keyword search
  3. To limit the search to Armacost holdings, limit availability to "items in my library"

To search Armacost records,

  1. Go to the library catalog's advanced search screen
  2. Do a subject search in conjunction with a keyword search

Indexes and Bibliographies


Indexes provide article citations (usually within a certain year.) Researchers just need look up their topic(s) and see the list of all items published on that topic. While databases are great at this kind of searching, they often do not include older articles. Another challenge for researchers is that while some databases have been created specifically to serve as an index, the researcher's library may not subscribe to such databases. Consequently, good researchers check print indexes, especially when searching for older articles.


While indexes list all items published within a given time frame, bibliographies list only select items related to a topic. Usually chosen are high quality literature widely recognized as influential in the field.

Finding Indexes and Bibliographies

Do these subject searches (in the Advanced Search interface) to find and utilize these search tools.

  • religion
  • theology
  • bibliography
  • indexes

Why Bother?

Researching primary sources can be a great idea for senior projects. Not only do you get to investigate matters first-hand, you also refine your research skills. For further explanation of primary and secondary sources, go to the general LibGuide created specifically for Religious Studies.

Use the "Advanced Search" Interface in the Library Catalog

Always use the Advanced Search interface for these searches. If you use the Simple Search interface, you will get very different results. A simple subject search for "diaries" gives you only those titles whose subject headings begin with "diaries." For example,

  • Diaries -- Authorship.
  • Diaries -- Bibliography.
  • Diaries -- History and criticism.

An advanced subject search for "diaries" gives you all holdings that have "diaries" mentioned at the beginning, end, or middle of a subject heading. For example,

  • Kamikaze pilots -- Diaries.
  • American diaries -- History and criticism.
  • Pepys, Samuel, 1633-1703 -- Diaries.

Locating Primary Sources in WorldCat and the Library Catalog

Subject Searches

Consider searching the singular and plural forms of the following. To search for both "diary" and "diaries" use an asterisk in your search term:  "diar*"

After identifying primary sources relevant to your research topic, use the appropriate term(s) in your subject searches.

  • interviews
  • diaries
  • narratives
  • sources
  • documents
  • statistics
  • antiquities
  • correspondence
  • manuscripts
  • maps
  • government publications
  • oral history
  • treaties
  • newspapers (in WorldCat, limit by year "-1850" to find all publications that began printing prior to 1850)
  • periodicals (in WorldCat, limit by year "-1850" to find all publications that began printing prior to 1850)
  • pictorial works
  • documentary films
  • biographical films
  • addresses
  • debates
  • speeches

You may also wish to include the following terms as subject searches to limit your results to the appropriate time period and/or geographic region. This may be useful if you encounter many results, but may not be useful if these limit your results to only a handful of items.

  • 19th century
  • United States OR U.S.


Keyword Searches

Another useful search strategy is to do a keyword search. Subject searches match your search terms to an item's subject headings. Keyword searches match your search terms to subject headings, notes, titles, authors, etc. Consequently, keyword searches will yield more results than subject searches.

  • "serial set" to search for Congressional documents
  • "ill." OR "illus." to search for illustrations


Author Searches

Another strategy considers the creator of documents. Once you have gathered background information about your topic, you may have a better sense of specific agencies or groups who may have published papers or other documents. To look for government documents, know which government agencies would likely produce the documents you need.

  • government agencies
  • departments
  • countries
  • organizations
  • associations