Answered By: Jessica Maris
Last Updated: Apr 17, 2024     Views: 91

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. There some tips below, and link to more tips and places to search. 


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 history and literature guides. There are pages or boxes for Primary sources in each guide. 

Searching for Primary Sources on Specific Subjects: Works for OneSearch or Google

The best places to look are OneSearch 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 offrom 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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