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Best Primary Source Reference Manager for Historians???


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Does anyone here use a reference database to manage their primary source documents (pdfs, pics of documents, etc.)?  I use Zotero for my secondary sources, but I don't love it for organizing primary sources. 


I'm posting this topic here rather than under the research forum because most of the info I've found on this topic has been geared for people in the sciences.  


I'm looking for a free or low-cost reference manager to use for pdfs and pics of primary source documents that are often handwritten or contain faded print.  I'd like to be able to track notes and organize large numbers of sources through the database so that I can keep track of my research as it grows into a potential dissertation project.  I'm looking at Mendley, Bibtex, Endnote, Refworks, JabRef, and Citavi, but I don't know which would be best-suited for this type of expanding project.


Any ideas?



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  • 2 weeks later...

What's wrong with Zotero? When I wrote my undergrad thesis, I used Zotero for my primary sources. 


Anyway, maybe you could try Evernote. It works for virtually everything, and you can store your scanned documents on there, annotate them, search using tags, arrange them into stacks and notebooks, etc.

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A combination of Zotero and Evernote works for me. 


Zotero is most useful as a bibliography generator and reading list.  I use it to bookmark all secondary sources + one genus of primary source -- old books and newspapers found digitized. 


For archival material, images, more diverse digital sources, and all note-taking, I use Evernote.  It lets you capture full web pages; file images; tag notes; attach PDFs to notes; organize the notes in "notebooks," etc. Everything is searchable, even the handwriting on photographed manuscripts! (Though this feature is not totally accurate.)


Good luck!

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