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Norwich University Kreitzberg Library

HI362 - Saints & Sinners: Medieval Popes: Primary Sources

Online Primary Source Collections

Suggestions for Finding Primary Sources on the Medieval Papacy

Searching for primary sources on medieval topics can often be challenging. Sometimes there isn't an abundance of documents that have survived on a particular topic or individual, and documents that have survived through the centuries may not be translated into English from their original language. However, we have a few tips that can make it easier for you to locate primary source materials on your medieval-era topic.

If you are researching a particular person, try doing searches (both on Google and in the library's catalog) using the person's name and keywords like "letters," "diaries," or "correspondence." Sometimes, these searches can turn up writings that the person created that you, in turn. can use as primary source material.

For example, if you were researching Pope Innocent III, a search in the library's catalog showed several books that could contain good primary source material:

A Google search for "letters of Pope Innocent III" turned up a helpful link to "Medieval Sourcebook: Innocent III (r. 1198-1216): Letters on Papal Policies" from Fordham University that could be used as primary source material. 

Another good way to find primary source material on your topic is to check the footnotes and references of your secondary source books (particularly scholarly, or academic, books). These books will almost always utilize primary source materials, so try and capitalize on their hard work, if you can! If you aren't sure how to check footnotes or if you don't know how to search the library's collections to see if we own a particular journal article or book, one of our librarians would be happy to help you! Email library@norwich.edu seven days a week to get quick and helpful assistance.