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Primer on Primary Sources  

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What are primary sources?

Primary sources are items or documents that are first-hand accounts or contemporary records of events or time periods. They allow us to get as close as possible to the events that happened at a particular time. It can be firsthand testimony such as a letter, memoir or news report, or physical evidence such as an artifact, specimen or fossil. Secondary sources, on the other hand, are accounts by people not directly involved in or witness to an event, such as an article written today, about a historical event from the 1940’s, or a critique of a literary work.


Types of Primary Sources

Diaries Letters
Memoirs Autobiographies
Personal narratives Personal papers
Speeches News reports
Government documents Legal documents and laws
Oral history Interviews
Photographs Paintings, drawings
Original works of art, literature, music Artifacts
Fossils Specimens
Maps Records of organizations
Case studies Surveys
Census data

Reference Hours

Monday:         8:30 - 5:00 &
                            6:00 - 9:00
Tuesday:         8:30 - 5:00 &
                            6:00 - 9:00
Wednesday:   8:30 - 5:00 &
                            6:00 - 9:00
Thursday:       8:30 - 5:00 &
                            6:00 - 9:00
Friday:             8:30 - 5:00

* Hours vary during breaks.


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