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Online Archives & Collections: Primary Sources

This guide includes links to some of the many large and vast collections that contain a variety of materials relating to many topics, issues, events, etc.

Preparing your research...

Think about the time period your topic takes place in. Make a list of what types of primary sources might have been produced during that time. Focus on those objects/documents related to your topic.

  • Examples:
    • Photographs
    • Books
    • Advertisements
    • Magazines/Newspapers
    • Movies
    • Audio recordings/Interviews
    • Letters
    • Government documents
    • Diaries
    • Etc.

Use secondary sources to assist you in gaining an understanding of your topic and its background.

What is a primary source?

Primary sources were either created during the time period being studied or were created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied (as in the case of memoirs).  They reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer.  Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period

A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or phenomenon.  It is generally at least one step removed from the event is often based on primary sources.  Examples include:  scholarly or popular books and articles, reference books, and textbooks.


Subject Guide

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Kourtney Blackburn
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