Primary sources are documents or physical objects written or created at the time historical events occurred or well after the events in the form of memoirs or oral histories. The author or creator was present at the time of the event and offers a first-hand account. Primary sources may include:
Original Documents (Diaries, letters, speeches, notes, meeting minutes, interviews, news audio or video footage, autobiographies, official records (birth/death/marriage certificates), new research findings reported in scholarly journal articles, newspaper articles, government documents (laws, reports, statistics, data).
Creative Works (music, photography, film, poetry, drama, novels, works of art, architecture)
Relics/Artifacts (jewelery, pottery, tools, weapons, clothing, buildings - created and used during the period of study)
Primary sources serve as raw material to interpret the past, and when used along with previous interpretations by historians, may provide resources necessary for historical research.
Find primary source material by searching:
Library Catalogs (monographs and serials containing autobiographies, memoirs, letters, speeches, interviews, etc.; government documents, newspaper and periodical microforms, maps, etc.)
Secondary Sources analyze, interpret, or comment on primary resources. They may include books (handbooks, encyclopedias, biographies), articles, reviews, scientific studies, editorials, etc.
Top MU database choices for historical research: