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Use this guide for help in your English courses and assignments.

Finding Manuscripts and Other Contemporary Sources

• There is no one, foolproof way to find primary documents when doing research on Chaucer.  It may take some time, and require multiple searches.

• Primary sources are often re-printed in books that you can check out or request from other libraries. 

• Original manusripts (as in the paper from the 14th century) are included in I-Share, but cannot be requested from other libraries.

• Many primary sources have been digitized and made available through library and research center web sites.  See the web sites tab of this guide.

• Look for re-printed primary documents listed in bibliographies.

Book Catalog Searches

Here's a way to identify primary sources in the I-Share catalog.  This could mean original manuscripts or published/edited documents (usually in book form published many years or centuries later.)

After typing your topic in the book catalog search box, add sources or "early works."  Look for sources like the anthology of medieval texts pictured below.  Note "sources," "early works" and "Chaucer" in the list of topics.

You may also add the following terms, in place of "sources" or "early works," to your topic search:


When you see "Manuscript," such as in the image below, it usually means primary sources that cannot be checked out or requested from I-Share.  These are usually items in Special Collections or Archives.

Manuscript text located to the right of a thumbnail, an image of paperclip documents, in the catalog.