Finding Primary Sources


Definition: Primary sources offer firsthand evidence about an event, person, object, or artwork.

Examples: Letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, first-person news coverage, historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, photos, experimental and statistical data, audio and video recordings, artifacts, patents, speeches, interviews, art, surveys, oral histories, dissertations, and Internet communications


In our library catalog

Search the library catalog for book series focused on primary sources (Type in one of the below and do a “series” search) Primary Sources in American History

Interpreting Primary Documents America’s Wars through Primary Sources

Remember!!! Many of our secondary sources contain primary content!  (Example: textbook)


In our databases:

Britannica On-Line ( US primary sources), EbscoHost (Periodicals), JSTOR (Journals by subject), Proquest (Photos)



On the web: Search:  Archive + country (where your event happened)  (Example: archive india) 



Try this! Looking for a specific format? Add these words to your library catalog and database searches!

Correspondence (ex. Civil War - Correspondence or 19th century - Correspondence)Diaries (ex. Confederate - Diaries) Personal narratives (ex. Holocaust - Personal narratives) Facsimiles (this means exact copies) (ex. New York Times - Facsimiles) Interviews (ex. Refugees - Interviews) Pictorial works (ex. West (U.S.) - History - Pictorial works) Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. Speeches (ex. Tiananmen Square - Speeches) Sources (ex. Civil rights - Sources or Medieval sources) Caricatures and cartoons (ex. United States - Politics and government - 2001-2009 - Caricatures and cartoons)

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