Skip to main content

Asian 1111: Religion and Ecology in Modern South Asia (Fall 2017): Primary Sources

A guide to library research


What makes a source

Depends on the topic;
it can be complicated. 

Talk specifics with your advisor.

Very basic, simplistic definition:
What is a primary source?

Useful Tips

Browse footnotes and bibliographies of books, encyclopedias, and articles for information about primary sources. 

Search the Library Catalog for primary sources--both unpublished manuscripts and modern editions in print and online, sometimes in translation, of original primary medieval sources. Use the guided keyword search with terms like:

personal narrative

Newspapers Tips

With the exception of the
collections listed here,
newspapers are generally
not available full text before 1980,
especially non-US papers.

But older newspapers are
often available on microfilm

and can be interlibrary loaned.
There will be no index and
using newspapers on microfilm
is hard, time-consuming work.

To locate newspapers on
microfilm, use  Worldcat: 

country = subject
newspaper* = keyword,
limit =
serial publications
format = microfilm. 
Do NOT specify dates.

Online Collections

Selected Primary Source Collections Online

India, Raj & Empire Drawing upon the manuscript collections of the National Library of Scotland, this searchable online resource provides access to digital facsimiles of diaries and journals, official and private papers, letters, sketches, paintings and original Indian documents containing histories and literary works. The collection documents the relationship between Britain and India in an empire where the Scots played a central role as traders, generals, missionaries, viceroys, governor-generals and East India Company officials. The dates of the documents range from 1710 to 1937.

Empire online   Approximately 60,000 images of original documents linked to essays by leading scholars in the field of Empire Studies. The sections cover Cultural Contacts, 1492-1969; Empire Writing and the Literature of Empire; The Visible Empire; Religion and Empire; and Race, Class and Colonialism, c1783-1969. The images  from the British Library, including the Oriental and India Office Collections at the British Library; the University of Birmingham Library; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and the Public Record Office and the State Records, New South Wales, Australia.

The March of Time A unique and controversial newsfilm series made 1935-1967, available in a searchable online video collection.

AccuNet/AP Multimedia Archive.  Current and historical images for the last 150 years from the Association Press.

Southeast Asia Visions is a digital collection of European travel accounts of pre-modern (1613 - 1920s) Southeast Asia.


Selected Primary Source Newspapers


Times of India (1861-2008)

Lexis Nexis Academic News from around the world as of 1980.

The Times digital archive, 1785-2006 Full-text and full-image articles from the Times of London for the years 1785-2006.

ProQuest historical newspapers. Selected major US Newspapers.

Foreign Broadcast Information Services (FBIS) daily reports, 1974-1996. Official US government English translations of radio and television transcripts and newspaper articles from around the world. Begun in the 1940s.

Access World News  600 U.S. and over 700 international sources. Date coverage varies with individual newspaper.  700 newspapers from more than 55 countries, displayed in their original format and accessible by country, language, or title.

Official Sources

Official Collections


Research Guide for UN Documents at Cornell

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (1688-to present) Full text with detailed subject indexing.

British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.  Included are the House of Commons Journal and House of Lords Journal

Finding British Sessional Papers at Cornell

The making of modern law: legal treatises 1800-1926.  The Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century Legal Treatises microfilm collections and 21,000 Anglo-American legal works including casebooks, local practice manuals, form books, works for lay readers, pamphlets, letters, speeches as well as material that isn't narrowly legal.


United States

Foreign relations of the United States: electronic facsimile. Some years may not be available. Also available through the Department of State

U.S. Congressional serial set (Online) 1817-1980 Full text of all the reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Still in progress.

A century of lawmaking for a new nation: U.S. Congressional documents and debates, 1774-1873 Presents records and acts of Congress from the Journals of the Continental Congress through The Congressional Globe, which ceased publication with the Forty-second Congress in 1873.

Finding Guide to U.S. Government Documents at Cornell


Web Accessibility Assistance