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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
- Sound recordings
- Video or motion picture recordings
- Memoirs and autobiographies.
- Published materials from the time (books, magazine and/or newspaper articles)
- Government documents
- Objects and artifacts
Find Primary Sources in Books and Pamphlets
Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800
The Evans, Early American Imprint collection is a searchable full-image primary source collection which features books, pamphlets, and ephemera documenting life in 17th- and 18th-century America. It includes materials relating to agriculture, foreign affairs, diplomacy, literature, music, religion, the Revolutionary War, slavery, temperance, and witchcraft.
Sabin Americana: History of the Americas, 1500–1926
Sabin Americana, 1500–1926 is digital archive of books, pamphlets, serials and other works about North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean the from the time of their discovery to the early 1900s.
Primary Source Images and Video
A searchable database of more than 1 million images, covering many time periods, cultures and disciplines. Users can search, view and download images.
Find Primary Sources in Books
Search LibrarySearch to find primary sources in books and other works. When searching the catalog, you will want to use specific words your searches to single out the primary source materials. These words are specialized "tags" added to the records to books by catalog librarians to provide accurate descriptions of books. Using the following words in your search will help you find the source material you seek:
||songs and music
Find Primary Sources in Magazines and Periodicals
British Periodicals Collection
With this database you have access to magazines, popular journals and other periodicals published in Great Britain dating from the from the late 1600s to World War II.
American Periodicals Series
With this database you have access to 1,500 magazines, newspapers and popular journal titles published in the United States dating 1741 through the 1930s.
Women's Magazine Archives
With this database you have access to several popular women’s magazines published in the United States and Canada dating from the from the late 1800s through the 20th century.
Find Primary Sources in Newspapers
Guardian and The Observer (Historical)
This database provides you access to the complete content of the British newspapers, The Guardian (1821 - 2003) and The Observer (1791- 2003) including all articles, editorials, advertisements and photographs.
British Library Newspapers
In this database you will find full-text content and images of 70 national, regional and local 19th century British newspapers including both liberal and conservative perspectives on the social and political developments of the times in which they were published.
The Times (London) Digital Archive 1785-
This database provides access to a searchable full-text facsimile of The Times (London), the world’s oldest continuously published newspaper, from 1785 – 2010.
Sunday Times Digital Archive 1822-2016
This database provides access to a searchable full-text facsimile of The Sunday Times (London) newspaper from 1822 to 2016.
Irish Times (Historical)
This database provides you access to the complete content of the Irish Times newspaper (1859-2012) including all articles, editorials, advertisements and photographs.
New York Times (Historical)
This database provides you access to the complete content of The New York Times newspaper (1851 - 2008) including all articles, editorials, advertisements and photographs.
Washington Post (Historical)
This database provides you access to the complete content of Washington Post newspaper (1877 - 1997) including access to all articles, editorials, advertisements and photographs.
Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers
In this database, you will find full-text content and images from numerous newspapers from a range of urban and rural regions throughout the U.S. The collection encompasses the entire 19th century, with an emphasis on such topics as the American Civil War, African-American culture and history, Western migration and Antebellum-era life.