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English 4W, English Composition 5W, and English Composition 100W

This guide supports students in English 4W: Critical Reading and Writing, English Composition 5W: Literature, Culture, and Critical Inquiry, and English Composition 100W: Interdisciplinary Academic Writing.

What Is a Primary Source?

A primary source is "first-hand" information, sources as close as possible to the origin of the information or idea under study. Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, works that provide analysis, commentary, or criticism on the primary source. In literary studies, primary sources are often creative works, including poems, stories, novels, and so on. In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other source of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question. Examples of commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.

Library Databases

The following databases contain primary sources which may be useful in your research.

Library Catalogs

As a UCLA student, you have so many resources available to you that there are three catalogs to keep track of them all! Don't worry, though—finding what you need is simple once you learn the system.

The catalog you'll probably use most often is the UCLA Library Catalog. This catalog will point you to books, movies, journals, and other resources at the UCLA Library.

Melvyl is a catalog shared by the entire University of California library system. This means that if you search for something in Melvyl, you'll not only see where it's at in the UCLA Library, but at Berkeley, Irvine, and all the other campuses. If UCLA doesn't have something you need, you can have it sent from another campus by clicking the orange "request" button. Melvyl also searches articles, but we recommend you use an article database unless you know the exact title and author of an article.

Melvyl is the UC's portal into WorldCat, which is a gigantic catalog shared by thousands of libraries across the globe. When you search WorldCat, you can see all the public and university libraries that have an item.

Archives and Special Collections

As a research university, UCLA has access to a wealth of archives and collections, and undergraduates are welcome to use them! The following two links will help you navigate our resources.

Research Help

Research and Writing Assistance in the Powell Library Inquiry Labs

Need research help? Schedule a free research consultation at the Powell Library Inquiry Labs (room 220) or just drop in 10am-6pm Monday-Thursday, noon-5pm Friday.