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Comparative Literature Research Guide: Doing Research with Primary Sources

This guide contains the most important research materials at Yale in Comparative Literature.

What are primary sources?

A primary source is any source (a work of literature or nonfiction, a monograph, an archival document or collection, a musical score, a painting, an audio recording, a film, etc.) that is the central focus of a research project, an essay, a final paper, or any work of scholarship.

To learn more about primary sources, see Yale's Primary Source website.

You can access primary sources at Yale by visiting a general or special collections repository, an art gallery, or a museum, or by accessing primary sources online via a digital primary source collection.


Searching for primary sources with LUX

LUX is a transformative new platform that provides access to millions of records for objects, people, places, concepts, and events represented in Yale’s rich cultural heritage collections. Find and connect with the cultural heritage collections across Yale’s museums, archives, and libraries in new ways and all in one place.


When do I search Quicksearch and when do I search Archives at Yale?

There are multiple pathways for accessing primary sources at Yale. LUX is Yale's newly launched cross-collections platform that can search multiple collection repositories. However, you may wish to perform a more specific search. 

If you are searching for a book (e.g. a first edition), a musical score, a film, or a sound recording, a good place to start is Yale Library's catalog. Use the discovery tool Quicksearch to search by title or author, then sort results to see works published earliest, or most recently, or in A-Z format.

If you are searching for an archival collection of documents, a writer's papers, for example, or archival items, or manuscripts, a good place to start is Archives at Yale.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with your librarian subject specialist if there is something you can't find!

What if I want to know which institution holds a particular archive?

For archives in the United States, a resource that can help identify where a particular collection is located is Archive Grid, a digital OCLC tool that allows you to search the special collections repositories of multiple institutions. 

From OCLC: "ArchiveGrid includes over 7 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,400 archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies."

A Selection of Subject Specific Digital Primary Source Collections