Primary Sources

A primary source is:

  • an account by an eyewitness or the first recorder of an event, in written or other form, including microform and electronic reproduction. Examples are diaries, letters, minutes of meetings, news footage, newspaper articles.
  • data obtained through original research, statistical compilations or legal requirements. Examples are reports of scientific experiments, U.S. census records, public records.
  • creative works such as poetry, music, or art.
  • artifacts such as stone points, pottery, furniture, and buildings.

Secondary sources are works that interpret the primary data, such as a book about eating disorders, a journal article about the role of tobacco in colonial economy, or a critical review of a play.

Selected List of Primary Sources:

  • Public papers of the Presidents of the United States (353.03 P96)
  • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (Gov. Docs AE2.109: )
  • American Memory (Library of Congress)
  • Diaries - Search the online catalog using the keywords diary or diaries, or the Subject heading personal narrative.
  • Any poem, play, novel, or short story
  • Scientific research report - Check research databases for the field of interest to find reports of scientific research.
  • Newspaper article about an event

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