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Research Guides

HIS477 Topics in the Social and Cultural History of Victorian Britain

Primary Sources

Things to keep in mind when looking for primary sources 

  • Start with what you already have—draw from course materials and secondary sources to identify citations to primary sources, key words, and historical figures. 
  • There isn’t going to be only one place to search for them.
  • Each database and search tool will be unique and will take time and experimentation to use effectively.
  • Consider language in your search for primary sources (i.e. historical or outdated language, place name changes, and untranslated sources).
  • Not everyone’s primary sources were collected—the historical record is incomplete and leaves out many voices.
  • Working with primary sources related to colonized or other marginalized peoples may be very upsetting, please take care. 
  • Ask for help! Primary sources can be very challenging to find, and U of T Librarians are here to help you in your search

Recommended Newspapers


Search for books, articles, media, and other formats using LibrarySearch, the University of Toronto Library's one-stop discovery system for all our library resources

Welcome to the new catalogue

Try searching for newspapers 




Recommended Magazines

How to find additional 19th century British newspapers and magazines 

For magazine databases take a look at this guide: Newspapers - Magazine Databases

If you want to locate a specific newspaper, look it up by its title in the LibrarySearch. Enter the subject in the library search box. 


  • Click on "Advanced Search" and select "title" from the drop down menu
  • Click on "Advanced Search" to perform a Boolean search or search across multiple fields.
  • On the search result page, under "format", filter to "newspapers"

Recommended resource to find additional 19th century British newspapers and magazines

Recommended Primary Source Databases 

British Government Publications

For more information please see the Foreign government information guide

Secondary Sources

Why should you use secondary sources with primary sources?

  • Secondary sources complement primary sources: a secondary source can bring clarification and deeper understanding to a primary source.
  • A historian who has expertise in a specific time period can provide contextual information through a secondary source that allows a student to maximize his/her appreciation of the primary source's value.
  • If you are researching a subject that you do not know a lot about, doing background reading in a secondary source can introduce you to some of the primary sources that are relevant to the subject area.
Use the Library website to find journal articles 

In Library Search you can also filter your search to include only articles

On the left-hand side of the results, there are filter options. For articles, select "articles" and or "peer reviewed articles" under "Filter your results". Then click Apply Filter. 

Use the Library website to find books

In the library homepage search box, type in the keywords relevant to your research topic. When searching for books, remember to use simple, broad keywords.

From the list of results, underneath Filter your results on the left sidebar select "Books" under Format and select "APPLY FILTERS" when prompted to see the the library catalogue search results.

Narrow down your list of books

You can refine your search with various filters on the left sidebar, such as Library, Subject, Publication Date, and Language.

For ebooks, you can also click on the Online checkbox at the top of the page underneath show only

Subject Databases

Why should you use subject specific databases?

  • The library catalogue may produce too many search results
  • You want to search for more specific time periods

Recommended Subject Specific Database

How to use Historical Abstracts (EBSCO)

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