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Finding 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 more 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. Secondary sources are further removed from the events and often reflect the author’s biases. 

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?

You can find primary sources in the University Archives as well as local public libraries. 

Find Specific Types of Primary Sources

You can use the Online Catalog Advanced Search to look for different types of primary sources.

  1. Enter the type of primary source you're looking for in the first box (examples include: 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.

News Transcripts are available through Lexis Nexis Academic.

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

Speeches and Interviews can be searched in Academic Search Complete.

  1. On the search page scroll down to the Limit your results section.
  2. From the Document type option box on the right select Speech or Interview.  To search both simultaneously hold down the "Control" key when making a selection.

General Primary Source Resources:

Article and Newspaper Databases

Local Archive Sources

Public Web Sources