Primary sources are original, uninterpreted information, such as firsthand accounts of events in letters, diaries, interviews, or historical news reportage.
- Find secondary sources on your topic, and see what kinds of sources their authors cite (e.g., children's books, legislation, pamphlets, newspaper articles, etc.). Can you find these, or similar, sources?
- Think about who would have cared about the children or issues you're writing about. Where would these people have recorded or published their thoughts, arguments, or knowledge (newspapers, schoolbooks, women's magazines, professional publications, annual reports)?
- Consider how the children you're studying would have interacted with institutions or systems (legal, health, educational, welfare, etc.). What kinds of documents would these institutions or systems have produced? What kind of information would they have collected?
- Identify historically-specific terms, and use them in your searches. For example, instead of searching "foster care" (our terminology), you might need to search "boarding out" or "placing out" (used in the 19th century).
- Identify names of institutions that would have kept records, including government agencies, charitable organizations, and schools. These can be helpful starting points for a search.
- Identify names of movements, and search those.