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HIST 117 Latin America in Global Perspective: Find Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source

What is a Primary Resource?

Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence created by participants and/or observers of a historical event or time period enabling researchers to get as close to the truth of what actually happened. Often, these materials are created at the time when the events or conditions occured. However, primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs and oral histories that are written or recorded later. 

Primary sources are characterized by their content not their format.  Therefore, primary sources can be found in published books, on microfilm/microfiche, in digital form or in their original format.

The following types of materials are generally considered primary resources:

  • Diaries or journals
  • Letters or other manuscripts
  • Speeches and interviews
  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Video or motion picture recordings
  • Memoirs and autobiographies. 
  • Published materials (books, magazine and/or newspaper articles)
  • Government documents
  • Objects and artifacts
  • Artworks

Find Primary Sources in Books

Search LibrarySearch to find primary sources in books and ebooks.   When searching, you will want to use specific keywords in your searches to single out the primary source materials.  Many of these keywords in the list below are commonly used in the subject headings -- the specialized "tags" added to the records describing books.  Others words on this list are commonly used in the titles to indicate that the book is a collection of primary sources.   

correspondence        personal narratives
documents pictorial works 
diary or diaries songs and music
sources journals
reader documentary history


Primary sources in books/ebooks can also be identified by searching for works by a specific author.  For example :

Author :  Che Guevara

Find Primary Sources in Books and Pamphlets

Find Primary Sources in Newspapers and Magazines

Find Primary Sources in Digital Collections on the Web