Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

HIST 1180: Viking America (Fall 2022): Primary Sources

a guide to library research


What makes a source

Depends on the topic;
it can be complicated. 

Talk specifics with faculty.

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

Artefacts as Sources

  • Viking Archaeology Blog (from Oxford University)
  • Scandinavian Archaeology from ScienceNordic
  • The HEIR (Historic Environment Image Resource) Project digital image archive at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford currently contains more than 18,000 images taken from glass plate negatives, lantern slides, photographs, film negatives or 35mm slides and span the years from the 1870s to the early 21st century.  The database contains hundreds of images of archaeological sites and monuments in Britain, Europe, the Near East and North Africa, including excavations of sites such as Knossos, Kish, Vinca and Verulamium; sites prior to excavation, restoration or destruction such as Carthage, Ephesus or Palmyra; and topics such as hillforts, standing stones, stone circles, churches, castles and cathedrals are all well represented in the collection. Many of these images have been unseen for 70 years or more.

Primary Sources in English: Medieval

For a selection of the writings of the Church Fathers in English full-text online, see The Catholic Encyclopedia online's new Fathers section or Early Church Fathers

Bibliography of English translations from medieval sources (Olin Library Graduate Study Center, Room 501 and Olin Reference Z6517 .F24) Outdated and superseded, but can still be useful on occasion, especially for brief works (a single letter or poem) or excerpts of longer works contained within books or articles.

British History Online Core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

Online Medieval Primary Source Bibliography  A guide to translated sources. Geography and type features particularly useful.

More primary sources, many in English

Useful Tips for finding printed primary sources in library catalogs

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 the terms for primary sources below as subjects, not keywords.

Library catalog/database terms for primary sources:

  • Sources means primary sources in a library catalog. It can mean a printed, edited, modern edition of an archival source; or it can mean a collection of excerpted, translated sources which might have the words "reader" or "documents" in the title; or it can mean a book about primary and secondary sources. All are invaluable. The footnotes and bibliography of any of them will lead to more sources.
  • Bibliographies are whole books devoted to a topic, usually a broader topic such as "Vietnam War" or "Early Modern Europe." They are a list of sources, often primary and secondary, generally described and annotated. Extremely helpful for getting a handle on sources and the scholarly literature on a topic.