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HIST 1200: Revolutionary Russia (Fall 2017): Primary Sources

A guide to library research


What makes a source primary?

Primary sources are original documents and objects which were created at the time. Typical examples include letters, diaries, photos, newspaper articles, eyewitness accounts, autobiographies, government reports, paintings, maps, etc. In actuality, it can be more complicated and can depend on the topic/time period.

Always clarify with your professor.

Online collections

CEEOL Central and Eastern European Online Library
A collection of primary sources, not all of them in English.

EastView Universal Databases
A rich collection of digital materials including Russian newspapers (in Russian), newswires (in English), government documents (in Russian), secondary books, secondary popular and scholarly articles (in English), and other materials. Best for late 20th-21st century topics.

Collected Works of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels
50 volumes. Includes published works as well as correspondence.

The Marxist Internet Archive
Includes the collected works of Lenin and other Marxists.

Revolution, democracy, socialism: selected writings by V.I. Lenin

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Search the Library Catalog for primary sources--both unpublished manuscripts and modern editions in print and online, sometimes in translation, of original primary sources. Use the advanced search with keywords related to your topic (such as Russia Revolution) and terms like:

personal narratives
description and travel

Then apply language limits.  That will result in such translated items as:

The Bolsheviks in power : the first year of Soviet rule in Petrograd (2007)

Voices of revolution, 1917 (2001) Olin Library DK265 .A544 2001

Competing voices from the Russian Revolution (2011) Olin Library DK265 .A5165 2011

The Russian civil war : documents from the Soviet archives (1997)


Historical Newspapers

English Language Primary Source Newspaper Articles

The Times digital archive, 1785-2006  This is the London Times. An excellent resource for international news.

ProQuest historical newspapers. US major newspapers such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and more.