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Music 345: Music in Paris in the 1920s

Finding Primary Sources in Catalyst

Before searching for primary sources in Catalyst, you need to have some idea of what kind of resource you want, so that you can tell Catalyst what to look for.

Catalyst is great for finding source readings, memoirs, autobiographies, and published collections of letters or diaries.

Finding Personal Writings in Catalyst

Personal writings include memoirs, letters, diaries, and autobiographies. As you use these sources, remember to ask yourself, "Did the author originally intend this for publication?" People self-edit their writing when they know it will go public, so what you read in a memoir and what you read in a personal letter might be different.

To find personal writings in Catalyst, go to the advanced search option.

In the first search box, enter the name of the person you want to learn more about.

In the second box, add the kind of material you want: memoir, letters, correspondence, diary, autobiography.

Pro Tip: use an asterisk (*) to create truncated search terms. These tell Catalyst (and other databases) to search for part of a word. For example, to search both diary and diaries, tell Catalyst to search for diar*

Example 1: A search for the letters of American songwriter Carrie Jacobs Bond...

picture of a Catalyst search for "Carrie Jacobs Bond" and "Correspondence"

...brings up a published collection of her letters.

Picture of the catalog record for the book "The Roads of Melody," which is a collection of Carrie Jacob Bond's letters.


Example 2: A search for the diaries of American composer Ned Rorem...

...yields the many diaries he published in his lifetime!


Finding Sourcebooks or Document Collections in Catalyst

It's very common for editors to collect a variety of different primary source readings into an anthology.  There are two main ways to find such anthologies in Catalyst -- by subject or by title.  Both versions work better for broad topics, like "Opera" or "American music," than narrow ones like a specific composer.


In the advanced search function of Catalyst, enter your general search topic in the first box. Then set the second search box to "Subject" and add the word "sources"...

picture of a catalyst search for "opera" and "sources" get a list of books of source readings on that topic.

catalog records in catalyst for the books French baroque opera: a reader and Opera: a history in documents


Often, anthologies of source readings will actually have the words "source" or "documents" or "reader" in their titles.

In the advanced search function of Catalyst, set the "Material Type" to "Book."  Enter your main search term in the first search box.  Then set the second search box to "title" and enter a term such as: source* (include the asterisk), documents (make sure it is plural), or reader.

The asterisk makes Catalyst search for anything beginning with "source-" : source, sources, sourcebook, etc. Using the plural documents will sift out titles that don't have anything to do with primary sources.

Here's a search for books about music with the word "reader" in the title...

A picture of a Catalyst search set to "subject contains music" and "title contains reader" and "material type is book."

...which brings up books like this!

A picture of the catalog record for the book "The Hip Hop and Obama Reader"