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Special Collections & University Archives

Identifying and locating primary sources at Texas Wesleyan University Special Collections & University Archives

New to Archival Research?

Here are some helpful resources for those new to archival research:

SAA Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research                                         

AHA Guide to Archival Research

National Archives: Getting Started


If you need help with the research process, please view this Step-by-Step Guide created by our Reference Librarians.

What is an Archive?

Archives, sometimes called archival repositories, contain an organized collection of the non-current records of the activities of a business, government, organization, institution, or other corporate body, and preserved because of the long-term value for research. These materials may also be evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator.

What is a Primary Source?

primary source is a record of a person, event, or occurrence that was created by an eye-witness or a participant's version of an event. Primary sources allow researchers to gain better insight into historical figures and events.


Primary sources emphasize the lack of intermediaries between the thing or events being studied and reports of those things or events based on the belief that firsthand accounts are more accurate.


Examples of a primary source include diaries, letters, notes from lab experiments, photographs, blogs, e-mails, maps, scrapbooks, Facebook pages, poetry, artwork, birthday cards, office records, artifacts.

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary Sources are created by individuals who were not direct participants in an event. They help you understand a topic and give you different views of historical people, events, and occurrences.


Books on Texas Wesleyan history, for example, are secondary sources because the author analyzes, interprets, retells, or explains events for which he/she was not present and did not personally witness. 


Examples of a secondary source include biographies, term papers, theses, dissertations, history books, magazine articles, journal articles, web sites, and documentaries.