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Research Guides

HIS312 Immigration to Canada


Identifying primary sources

primary source is a document that was created at the time of the event or subject you've chosen to study, or by people who were observers of, or participants in that event or topic

More information:

Think about what kinds of primary sources might be related to your topic:

letters                newspapers                                             pamphlets
interviews reports maps
diaries government documents film
memoirs institutional records photographs


Ways to find primary sources:

1. Start with what you already have to uncover references to primary sources. Consult your:

  • class notes
  • course readings
  • bibliographies of your textbook, journal articles, or other secondary sources
  • historical encyclopedias

They can also help you identify relevant historical figures, authors, or keywords for searching library database

2. Use the library catalogue to find books and other materials

Combine keywords for different kinds of primary sources with keywords for your topic to find them in the library catalogue.


Refugees in Canada sources

Canadian Immigrant Diaries

Latin American migration to Canada documents

Tip: filter your search in the library catalog by format using the left side bar

Primary source keywords

documents                             sources                   texts                                 diaries
correspondence pamphlets personal narratives interviews


3. Use reliable online primary source collections

Canadian or National Focused Archives and Databases

Immigration Focused Archives and Databases

Ethnic or Cultural Focused Archives and Databases

Citing Your Sources

Ask Us!


This guide is currently maintained by Jesse Carliner. Please send any suggestions, comments, and reports of broken links to 

  • Fall 2023 update: Samantha Zani, TALint student