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The Cold War, Causes of

Primary Sources

Primary Sources

While reference tools and secondary sources (scholarly books and journal articles) are essential for the scholar, his or her focus for original research will be primary sources. A primary source was created near the event, activity, movement or subject under study. The closer in time and space to the event a source was created, the more likely a source will be considered primary.

Examples of Primary Sources

  • letters, correspondence and diaries
  • official documents, diaries, memoirs, correspondence
  • flyers, pamphlets and broadsides
  • notes from interviews
  • posters, art & music
  • oral history
  • newspaper and periodical articles
  • newspaper and periodical ads, editorials, letters to the editor, etc.
  • any publication, document or item created contemporaneously with an event is potentially a primary source.

While the gold standard for primary sources is still the original document in its original format (e.g., actual letters, diaries, print newspapers, etc.), more and more primary sources have been microfilmed or digitized and subsequently made available in subscription databases or freely on the web. For primary sources in their original format, historians frequently end up traveling to libraries and archives holding the original unique materials.  If you are using a digitized document, be sure to determine if the full document is included or only selected portions.  Selection involves value judgments and potential bias.

Sample Published Collections of Primary Source Materials

  • The CAESAR, POLO & ESAU papers Cold War era ... 1953-1973. 
  • Assessing the Soviet threat: the early Cold War years.  Documents Center, SuDoc PREX 3.17: AS 7
  • Debating the origins of the Cold War : American and Russian perspectives.  Hesb Gen  E 183.8 .S65 D43 2002
  • The Cold War: a history in documents.  Hesb Gen  D 842 .W56 2003
  • Cold war perceptions : Romania's policy change towards the Soviet Union, 1960-1964
  • Origins of the Cold War : the Novikov, Kennan, and Roberts "long telegrams" of 1946.  Hesb Gen  D 839.3 .O74 1991
  • Origins of the Cold War : the Novikov, Kennan, and Roberts "long telegrams" of 1946.  Documents Center, SuDoc Fiche  Y 3.P 31: 2 Or 4
  • Cold War crises.  Hesb Gen  D 842 .C595 1995
  • Through the history of the Cold War:  the correspondence of George F. Kennan and John Lukacs
  • On the front lines of the Cold War documents on the intelligence war in Berlin 1946 to 1961
  • The Cold War in Asia
  • Foreign relations of the United States, 1958-1960 Volume XIX, China:  microfiche supplement.  Hesb SuDoc Fiche (Lower Level Hesburgh)  S 1.1: 958-60/v.14
  • Sovetsko-amerikanskie otnoshenii︠a︡, 1945-1948.  Hesb Gen  E 183.8 .S65 S574526 2004
  • Sovetsko-amerikanskie otnoshenii︠a︡, 1949-1952.  Hesb Gen  E 183.8 .S65 S574527 2006
  • Containment: documents on American policy and strategy, 1945-1950.  Hesb Gen  E 813 .C68
  • Soviet views on the Cuban missile crisis : myth and reality in foreign policy analysis.  Hesb Gen  E 841 .S64 1982
  • The Cuban missile crisis, 1962: a National Security Archive documents reader.  Hesb Gen  E 841 .C845 1998
  • Lost chance in China; the World War II despatches of John S. Service.  Hesb Gen  DS  777.55 .S443.
  • Psywar on Cuba:  the declassified history of U.S. anti-Castro propaganda. Hesb Gen  E 183.8 .C9 P78 1999
  • Sacred secrets:  how Soviet intelligence operations changed American history.  Hesb Gen  DK 266.3 .S364 2002
  • Europe transformed:  documents on the end of the Cold War.  Hesb Gen  D 849 .F685 1990
  • The Kissinger transcripts: the top secret talks with Beijing and Moscow.  Hesb Gen  E 855 .K573 1998
  • The creation of the intelligence community founding documents.
  • A Vietnam reader:  sources and essays.  Hesb Gen  DS 557.4 .V56 1991
  • La guerra encubierta contra Cuba.  Hesb Gen  E 183.8 .C9 G74 2006
  • The Cold War:  a history in documents and eyewitness accounts.  Hesb Gen  D 839.3 .C65 2003
  • Bay of Pigs declassified : the secret CIA report on the invasion of Cuba.  Hesb Gen  F 1788 .B29 1998
  • Inside the Cold War from Marx to Reagan : an unprecedented guide... .  Hesb Gen  D 843 .K734 2015
  • In the midst of events:  the Foreign Office diaries and papers of Kenneth Younger, February 1950-October 1951.  Hesb Gen  DA 588 .Y594 2005
  • Archival research on the Cold War era : a report from Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.  Hesb Gen  DJK 50 .S566 1992
  • Historical collection on Ronald Reagan, intelligence, and the end of the Cold War.   
  • Uprising in East Germany 1953 : the Cold War, the German question, and the first major upheaval behind the Iron Curtain.  Hesb Gen  DD 286.2 .U67 2001
  • Estados Unidos y Uruguay 1964-1966 : la diplomacia de la Guerra Fría... .  Hesb Gen  F 2722.5 .U5 A43 2012
  • A cardboard castle? an inside history of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

For other collections of primary source held by Notre Dame:

     Search in ND Catalog "Advanced Search" for:

     Subject        contains    ("foreign relations" AND "united states" AND (russia OR

                                          "soviet union" OR ussr OR china OR cuba OR vietnam))

                                                              OR "cold war"

     Subject        contains    sources OR documents

Additional Collections of Primary Sources

Adapted from:
HIST 53001: History Honors Methods by G. Margaret Porter

Letters, Diaries, Papers and Interviews: 

Books, Pamphlets, Documents, etc. :