Need to find a primary source? The Bell Library staff is happy to help. We have convenient walk-in hours or you can make an appointment by contacting us at or 612-624-1528.

When you come to the Bell:

  • Bring a copy of your assignment
    This will help us guide your research to find the most appropriate sources
  • Bring a photo ID
    You will be asked to register as a researcher
  • Have a topic in mind – or at least a general idea. What interests you most?


Planning your research

Primary sources created before the 20th century offer special challenges.

  • Sentence structure and vocabulary can be different and may seem exotic—almost like reading a foreign language.
  • The fonts used in the past for printed material can be difficult to read.
  • The material in books might be organized differently: no table of contents, no title page, publication date in Roman numerals –and—NO PAGE NUMBERS!


What to do?

  • Allow additional time for research when using primary sources.
  • Ask for help. We’re here for YOU.
  • Check out the Using the Collection section of this Web site for more helpful information.


Student Writing Award $100 prize! U of M students only Ristow Prize in the history of cartography. Research papers only; international competition. $1,000

More Tools

Zotero Basics (58 minute video)
Introduction to Assignment Calculator

Sugar 4Caribbean Sugar Plantation Sugar plantations and slavery are among the many topics you can study using Bell Library resources.

Some Helpful Resources

Putting Sources into Historical Context
Understanding Roman Numerals