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Social Work Research Guide

Resources for students and faculty in the School of Social Work.

What's a Primary Source?

Primary sources are documents created at the time of interest. They offer a firsthand or "primary" view of historical events, people, and topics.  Examples include:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Sermons
  • Financial records
  • Newspaper articles published at the time
  • Government and institutional documents

Primary Sources in Library Databases

Use your NetID and password to access databases off campus.

Primary Sources in Print and Microfilm

The Mansfield Library owns thousands of books, ebooks, and microfilm reels that contain transcriptions or reproductions of personal papers (such as letters and diaries), business records, and government agency records held in archives around the world. Good keywords to use as you search for these primary source materials are: sources, letters, papers (and papers of), documents (and documents of), manuscripts, and records.  


Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Central Classified Files, 1907-1939 (Microfilm)
Series A. Indian delegations to Washington (25 reels);
Series B. Indian customs and social relations (23 reels); Series C, pt.1. Reports on Medical and Nursing Activities (29 reels); Series D, pt.1. General Organization, Regulations, and Types of Schools (12 reels); Series D, pt.2. Correspondence and Reports on Reservation Day and Boarding Schools (30 reels). The microfilm collection is located at call number 970.5 R311 on Level 1 of the Mansfield Library. A guide to the collection is located on top of the Microfilm shelves at call number 970.5 R311.

Women’s Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library, Series 2, Women in National Politics (Microfilm)
52 reels of microfilm of women's papers housed at the Schlesinger Library. The microfilm collection is located at call number 973.91 R211Z on Level 1 of the Mansfield Library. Guides for this collection, including biographical sketches, bibliographies, reel indexes, and subject indexes, are located on top of the microfilm cabinets on level 1 at call number 973.91 R211Z

Addams, Jane. The Selected Papers of Jane Addams. Edited by Mary Lynn McCree Brian, Barbara Bair, and Maree de Angury. (2 volumes) University of Illinois Press, 2003. Located on Level 2 at call number 361.92 A222Z.

Archives West

Archives West provides access to guides to archival collections and to descriptions of primary source collections held at repositories in the Western United States, including Montana, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Examples of primary source materials held in archival collections include letters, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, business records, oral histories, official papers of senators and congressmen, and the records of organizations.

Library of Congress

Secondary Sources

Use your NetID and password to access databases off campus.

Sample Ebooks on Social Policy