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HIS 3380: Workshop in Historical Methods: Primary Sources

Primary Sources Defined

Primary Sources 

"Primary sources . . . are defined as the direct evidence of a time and place that you are studying – any material (documents, objects, etc.) that was produced by eyewitnesses to or participants in an event or historical moment under investigation. Secondary sources, in contrast, are interpretations – often generated by scholars – that are based upon the examination of multiple primary sources." (from Primary Source.org)

Consider various types of primary sources

What types of primary sources might have been produced that would be relevant to your topic? Which persons or organizations might have produced materials?

Possible formats include:

  • Books
  • Photographs, images
  • Magazines, newspapers
  • Advertisements
  • Diaries, journals
  • Movies, videos, DVDs
  • Memoirs, autobiographies
  • Audio recordings
  • Interviews
  • Letters
  • Speeches
  • Research data, statistics
  • Documents produced by organizations
  • Documents produced by government agencies