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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 (books, magazine and/or newspaper articles)
- Government documents
- Objects and artifacts
Reference sources may contain citations to repositories of papers or other primary material.
Bibliographies in scholarly books often arrange sources consulted by type. The language may vary but the arrangement is clear - primary and secondary, published and unpublished, manuscripts, letters, papers, archives, etc.
Footnotes in books and journal articles may refer to contemporary publications or other primary materials.
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 CLICsearch to find primary sources in books and ebooks. When searching, you will want to use specific subject headings in your searches to single out the primary source materials. These subject headings are specialized "tag" 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:
|diary or diaries
||songs and music
Find Primary Sources in Newspapers and Magazines
Use the following resources to find newspaper and magazine articles from the British and U.S. perspectives on events in Chinese history:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Digitized Books and Goverment Documents
Google Books is a collection of digitized books and periodicals. If the book is out of copyright, or the publisher has given its permission, the entire text. If it's in the public domain, you're free to download a PDF copy.
Hathi Trust Digital Library
HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.
Find Primary Sources in Encyclopedias and Reference Works
Primary Sources on the web
East Asian History Sourcebook
From Fordham University, a collection of links primary resources relating to the history of Japan and China.
From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a collection of images documenting modern China and Japan.
Gallery of Chinese Propoganda Posters
Posters from the collections of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and Stefan R. Landsberger (University of Amsterdam, Leiden University).
The East is Red
A 1965 film dramatizing the history of the Chinese Revolution and the Communist Party under the leadership of Mao Zedong.