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Find Primary Sources

Find Primary Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are original artifacts or documents. They offer contemporary accounts from participants or people directly involved in an event. To learn about secondary sources, see our Secondary Sources page.

Examples include:

Why use primary sources?
Primary sources enable you to work with the raw material and draw your own conclusions.

How can I tell if something is a primary source?

The following questions can help you determine if you have a primary source:

Where can I find primary sources?

Library Catalog (Advanced Search)

  1. Enter the type of primary source you're looking for in the first box (narratives, correspondence, music scores, etc.)
  2. Change the drop-down menu next to the first search box from "Keyword" to "Subject"
  3. In the second box, type a related keyword (author, event, geographical location, etc.)
For example: You may type "narratives" in the first box and "Anne Frank" in the second box to look for Anne's diary and related primary sources.

Library Databases 

Articles and Newspapers:

News Transcripts: 

  1. In the "Search by Subject or Topic" option category select "Broadcast Transcripts"
  2. Enter search terms in box and click "Search"
  3. Use options on result page to focus your results

Speeches and Interviews: 

  1. Under "Search Options," scroll down to the "Limit your results" section
  2. Under "Document type,"  select "Speech" or "Interview." To search both simultaneously hold down the "Control" key when making your selection

Local Archives 

Public Libraries

Government Websites

Questions?