Skip to Main Content

History: Searching for Primary Sources

Resources for research in history.

Locating Primary Sources

Locating primary sources can be overwhelming when first learning how to access archival collections, both in-person and remotely.  Archives function differently from libraries - open hours for in-person research are typically limited, and materials within our holdings do not circulate. The information below will guide you through the process and get you started on your research. 

If you need additional assistance, contact us at (208) 282-3249 or and we will help you!

Another resource that is helpful when looking for primary sources online is, Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using

*HINT: When you find a good, relevant book look at the list of references or the bibliography associated with the chapter(s) that are most helpful. Usually these bibliographies will lead you to other useful sources, including primary sources.

Government Documents

The government documents collection serves the informational needs of the citizens of eastern Idaho. It is one of the depository libraries designated to receive publications from the United States government as well as from the State of Idaho. It has a large collection of U.S. documents and a medium sized collection of Idaho documents. The collection also includes a large collection of purchased United Nations publications.

United States Government Publications

The Library has been a U.S. government documents depository library since 1908. The U.S. documents are available in various formats: paper, microfiche, CD-ROM, DVD, computer diskettes, Internet, etc. Tangible format U.S. documents are arranged in a separate collection and use the Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc) to arrange them on the shelves. The collection is housed on the Third Floor with reference items on the First Floor. Research assistance is provided at the main Reference Desk or with the Government Documents Librarian on a drop-in basis or by appointment.

All documents that are currently received are located in the LIBRARY CATALOG as are most documents received since 1976. However, many publications issued before July 1976 have not been cataloged yet. The Documents Librarian or the Reference Desk staff can recommend the best way to find both current and historical government information. In the LIBRARY CATALOG , use the "Easy Limits" to search only the U.S. Government Documents Collection. For other limits use "Go To Limits". Set limit to Documents-U.S. or Internet (includes Government Documents) for a different sort.

Search: LIBRARY CATALOG Location: US Documents (3rd Floor)

ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) -- The ERIC collection consists of over 483,000 titles in the field of education. Beginning in 1966, the book titles that were indexed by the Center were sold to libraries on microfiche. The Library purchased the fiche collection until its production ceased in 2005. The ERIC cabinets contain over 483,000 ERIC Documents (ED) microfiche, dating from 1966 through 2005. The publication of ERIC documents continue in electronic format and can be found by using the ERIC database (accessed below). The Center also indexes journal articles (EJ), many of which are housed in the Oboler Library's periodical collection.

ERIC (U.S. Department of Education)
ERIC (through FDsys): Browse reports received by GPO beginning in October 2002. Reports cover 1995 through 2004.

Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library

Special Collections and Archives at the Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University acquires, preserves, and makes accessible research materials that document the historical, cultural, and folk life experience of Southeast Idaho, the Intermountain West, and the history of Idaho State University.

While the holdings in our collections are developed in relation to instructional and research interests within the University, all are available for use by visiting scholars and the general public as well as by Idaho State University faculty and students. Please visit our website for more detailed information about our collections.  

Researchers are highly encouraged to contact the Department prior to their visit to ensure access to  the materials required.  Advanced notice of your visit and research topic will also enable archives staff to prepare for your visit and provide better service.  We want to make your research experience as productive as possible. 

For research and reference requests, or to make an appointment, please email us at or call (208) 282-3249.

Oboler Library Databases

To access the Library's databases, go the the Library's homepage and search databases individually, or choose, "view all". After choosing "view all" In the upper left drop-down box labelled "All Subjects" choose which subject specific databases you are interested in exploring. 

Idaho Government Documents

Get Online Access Support
• Eli M. Oboler Library • 850 S. 9th Avenue • Stop 8089 • Pocatello, Idaho, USA 83209 • Site Feedback - Library Webmaster
Licensing Restrictions for Use of Electronic Resources