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HIST 3365 Drugs and Alcohol in American History

This guide is a compilation of library and Internet resources that may be useful for researching the history of alcohol and drugs in the United States.

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be found using a variety of tools including library catalogs (selected primary sources are reproduced in books written by historians), databases, and search engines. The below databases are great places to start your search, but this is not an exhaustive list and there may be primary sources reproduced in some of your secondary sources. Also remember that primary sources are not just documents but can also be works of art, clothing, buildings, and other public locations created at a particular time.

Useful Databases

Archives at BGSU

You are not, however, limited to digital archives or primary source databases. BGSU is home to many physical archive collection that students have access.

Open Access Primary Source Databases

Searching for Primary Sources In the Library Catalog

One way to identify books that are primary sources is to look for books written by people who were involved in the event or activity you are researching.  When you look at secondary sources, write down the names of people and then look for them as authors.

In the BGSU Libraries Catalog, the OhioLINK Catalog, and WorldCat, books that have been assigned subjects with the subheadings in the list below might be primary sources.  However, don’t expect that a book that includes primary sources will always include one of these words or phrases in a subject heading.  Also, these subheadings are not used in other databases.

--Personal narratives


  • Alcoholism -- United States -- History -- Sources
  • Alcoholics -- Biography
  • Drug Addicts -- Personal Narratives
  • Drug Dealers -- United States -- Biography
  • Marijuana -- Anecdotes
  • Substance Abuse -- United States -- History -- Sources
  • Temperance -- Personal Narratives

Evaluating a Primary Source

The Library of Congress has a great tool for helping you evaluate potential primary sources: