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Using Franklin to Find Primary Resources - Research Guide

Searching for primary information in Franklin

Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania's library catalog, can lead you to a wealth of primary information. This guide explains some efficient ways to use Franklin to locate primary information.

Subject Heading Subdivisions
Genre Terms
Author Searches


Subdivisions are terms that are placed after Library of Congress subject headings to identify a narrower category of information. For example, in the subject heading:

African American civil rights workers-Louisiana-Biography

the subject heading (African American civil rights workers-Louisiana) limits the search to information about them in Lousiana. Adding the subdivision 'biography' further limits the search to biographies and autobiographies about African American civil rights workers in Louisiana and works about biographies and autobiographies of African American civil rights workers in Louisiana . There are three principal ways to search for items that fall under the subdivision in which you are interested.

See examples!

Library of Congress Subdivisions

Subdivision Normally Follows To Identify
anecdotes People, Classes of people, Events, Organizations Collections of brief stories about the subject
archival resources Countries, Topics
Brief descriptions of the types of documents and historical records about a particular place or topic available in an institution or institutions
biography People, Classes of People Biographies, Autobiographies and related resources
caricatures and cartoons People, Corporate bodies
Classes of people, Ethnic groups
Wars, Topics
Collections or discussions of caricatures or pictorial humor
case studies Topics Case studies of the topic
correspondence People,Classes of People
Ethnic groups
Form or topical subdivision for letters from and/or to the person or people.
description and travel Countries, Cities and Regions Travel narratives and descriptions of places
diaries People Collections or discussions of the person's diaries and for individual diaries
documentary films Is often used as a stand alone heading Documentary Films
early works (date) Topics, Concepts Works about the topic that were published before the date specified.
interviews People Works consisting of transcripts of what was said during the course of the interview or conversations with a person on one or more occasions
manuscripts Literary authors, Literary works
Sacred works, Groups of authors
Literatures, Topics
maps Countries, etc., Corporate bodies
Topical headings
Individual maps or collections of maps
notebooks, sketchbooks People Collections or discussions of the person's notebooks or sketchbooks
numismatics People Works discussing representations of the person on coins, medals, tokens, paper money, etc.
pamphlets People, Classes of people, Events Pamphlets
personal narratives Events, Names of wars Personal reminiscences or accounts by participants
pictorial works People, Objects, Classes of people, Ethnic groups, Individual wars, Topics Picture books, Illustrated works
public opinion Places, People, Classes of People, Ethnic Groups, Events, Topical Headings Survey and polling data, Case Studies, Historical research on public opintion
songs and music Places, People, Countries, Ethnic Groups Songs and Music
sources Countries, People
Classes of persons, Ethnic groups
Topical headings
Collections or discussion of contemporary writings such as legal documents, letters, diaries, family papers,etc. assembled at a later time to serve as source material for research
speeches People, Classes of people, Events Speeches
statistics Places, Topics, Subjects, Classes of people, Events, Organizations Statistics

Genre Terms

Library of Congress subdivisions indicate what the material in that division is about. Consequently, a search for:

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Correspondence

may identify both the actual correspondence of Abraham Lincolan and works about Abraham Lincoln's correspondence.

Genre terms, however, indicate types of resources. For example a subject search for 'Broadsides' will result in a list of records for broadsides. Books about broadsides will not be included. Keyword, subject and skey searches can all be effectively used. See these examples. Searching for genre terms is different from searching for Library of Congress subdivisions, however, in that Genre terms don't follow a subject heading and can often effectively stand by themselves.

1. Search for: 2. Search by:

Unlike subdivisions, which are typically used after subject headings, genre terms are often used by themselves or followed by subdivisions.

Courtesy Books
Devotional Literature
Fairy Tales
Farewell Sermons
Funeral Sermons
Ordination Sermons
Prayer Books

Author Searches

If you are searching for primary information about a PERSON:
Try doing an author search for the person about whom you are doing research and people who may have known or written contemporaneous works about that person. Also, try doing an author search for organizations in which that person may have been involved.

If you are searching for primary information about an EVENT:
Try doing an author search for people who participated in, wrote contemporaneous works about or otherwise played a role in the event about which you are doing research.


1. If you know the subject heading (eg., African American civil rights workers- Louisiana ) you can simply do a subject search for that heading with the relevant subdivision added to the end (eg. 'African American civil rights workers in Louisiana -Biography' or 'African American civil rights workers- Louisiana -Correspondence). When you do a search for a subject heading (African American civil rights workers) the results will frequently be a list of subject headings with subdivisions, so another approach would entail doing the more general search and then browsing through the resulting list of subject headings for relevant subdivisions. The main drawback of this type of search is that you must know subject headings--which can be tricky to find--before you can search using the subdivision.

2. You can do a keyword search using the terms that you believe will be most likely to turn up interesting results along with terms from relevant subdivisions. You can use this type of search regardless of whether you know the subject heading. On the other hand, any record that has the term 'African American civil rights workers' and 'biography' in it will be returned to you, and this may include many records that are not specifically biographies on your topic.

3. Follow the steps in 2 except do an 'skey' keyword search. Skey searches search only in the subject heading of the record. Consequently, this type of search is much more narrow than a normal keyword search, but you still don't have to know the exact subject heading to use it.

Last update: Wednesday, 17-May-2008 13:38:16 EDT
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