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History Day

Research resources and help for students participating in History Day

How to Search for Primary Source Materials

1. Find the keywords (and related words) from your research question or research topic. 

Example: How did the invention of the printing press affect the exchange of information in Europe? 

Keywords: printing press, Europe, information exchange, invention

Related keywords: Gutenberg, moveable type, literacy, reading, books

2. Choose an information resource to search; this can be a library's catalog, a database, an archive, or another resource

Decide what information resource might be most useful; ask your teacher or a librarian for help

Check out the "About" page of online archives to figure out if it covers your topic. 

3. Search the information resource you've chosen using the keywords you created in step one. 

Try out different combinations of your keywords to see which bring back the best results for your research. Record what works best in your research journal. 

4. Repeat until you've found all the information you need to answer your research question. 

Finding Online, Primary Source Materials

There are many digital archives containing digitized and “born digital” primary sources. Some are listed below to get you started. You can also try an open web search for “your topic” and “digital archive.”


General, multiple foci online archives


Focus on United States History






Greek and Roman