Answered By: Kathryn Park
Last Updated: Jul 29, 2015     Views: 110

Primary sources are records from the past, written or recorded at the time. They can be letters, diaries, government documents, autobiographies, works of literature, photographs, oral histories, film, video, audio, newspaper articles and artifacts. It will usually not say if it is a primary source, you will have to decide for yourself if it is a primary source.

United States History LibGuide
Some of the best sources for primary sources are archives, library and college web sites. We have a lot of great ones collected in our US History LibGuide. There is a tab for Primary history sources on the US in general, and then for each era designated by the tabs (such as 1763-1820) you will find more primary sources specific to that era:

Books & eBooks with Primary Sources
For that era you will find books, eBooks with primary sources. The books and eBooks with primary sources have a scroll icon next to them, and all the Google books listed are primary sources.

Primary Sources on the Internet
Eyewitness accounts, maps and of course the Primary Sources box are all primary sources.

Searching for Primary Sources on Specific Subjects: Library Catalog or Google
The best places to look are the library's catalog for books or using Google on the Internet. When you are searching for primary sources, adding the term primary source or primary document might work, but there are other terms you can add that may be more successful. You can use the terms below with of, from with the name of an individual or event. For instance papers of Thomas Jefferson or first hand account American revolution.

  • journals
  • papers
  • correspondence
  • autobiography
  • documents
  • oral history
  • eyewitness accounts
  • first hand account
  • archives

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