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Primary Sources: About Primary Sources

Welcome! This guide is a starting point for students with research assignments requiring primary sources.

  Welcome

This guide is a starting point for students with research assignments requiring primary sources.

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Primary Sources

What are primary sources?  Primary sources are original records and items that have survived from the past; they provide information that helps us interpret and understand history. Sources are considered primary on the basis of their content, even if one views a digital copy rather than an original. Some examples of primary sources are:

Written Documents  

Ex: Books, newspapers, maps, posters, diaries, government documents, court decisions, letters, and journals

Artifacts

Ex: clothing, tools, inventions

Visual Documents

Ex: photographs, films, paintings

Oral recordings

Ex: speeches, interviews

 

Note:  Many subject encyclopedias include primary documents, either in the appendices or within chapters.  For examples, in Reference, see Encyclopedia of Women in American Politics HQ1236.5.U6 E53 1999 and Encyclopedia of American History,  E174.E53 2003.