Primary source material is a key part of historical research. A primary source is a document in which an event is described by its witnesses. Some examples are: diaries, letters, speeches, letters, interviews, newspapers, autobiographies, official records including government documents, pamphlets, photographs, films, art, novels, music, furniture, clothing, buildings, and jewellery.
A secondary source interprets and analyses primary sources. Secondary sources are one step removed from the event. Some examples are: textbooks, journal articles, histories, criticism, commentaries and encyclopedias.
To find books on a topic, search the Queen's Catalogue (QCAT) by author, title, subject headings, or keyword.
To find books by a particular author/person, search QCAT by author:
To find books about a particular author/person, search QCAT by subject heading:
If you are searching by subject heading for books on an author's particular work, check the subheadings following the author's name for the single work and click on that heading.
e.g. Roy, Gabrielle, 1909-1983. Bonheur d'occasion
If there are no books on a single work, choose the general heading "Criticism and Interpretation".
e.g. Roy, Gabrielle, 1909-1983. Criticism and interpretation
If there are no books on the author you are looking for, try the following subject headings:
Authors, French -- Biography Authors, French-Canadian -- Biography Authors, French -- Bio-bibliography French literature -- Bio-bibliography French-Canadian literature -- Bio-bibliography French literature -- History and criticism
To find books on a topic when you do not know the correct subject heading(s), use a Keyword Boolean search (combining Boolean operators: and, or, not). Think of the focus (or key) words that describe your topic. Combine words with "and". Use quotations for phrases.
french and novelists and "20th century" not (electronic or video?)
"gabrielle roy" and criticism (or perhaps even: gabrielle and roy and criticism)
Select useful titles and look at the full record for subject headings.
Children's literature, French-Canadian--History and criticism Authors, French-Canadian--Québec (Province)--Biography--Dictionaries--French
Examples of other types of subject headings:
French literature--To 1500--History and criticism Literature and society--France Politics and literature--France
You can find bibliographies on a topic by looking for the subdivision bibliography following a subject heading.
You can find primary sources (correspondence, interviews, diaries, etc.) in the library by looking for the subdivision sources following a subject heading. E.g.