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HIST 116 - Women in American History - Mo

This research guide will help you with your research projects in Eva Mo's class

Working with Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are original materials that were created firsthand; they have not been run through the filter of interpretation.

Because primary sources are the documents or artifacts closest to the topic of investigation, they are a great way to gain insight into and an understanding of an event or topic. Often they are created during the time period that is being studied but they can also be produced later by eyewitnesses or participants.

You may find primary sources in their original format (usually in an archive) or reproduced in a variety of ways: books, microfilm, digital, etc.

primary source image

Examples are:

  • Original Research (reported in journals & dissertations)
  • Diaries
  • Interviews (legal proceedings, personal, telephone, email)
  • Letters
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate or a trial transcript)
  • Patents
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, Conferences and Symposia
  • Survey Research (such as market surveys and public opinion polls)
  • Works of Literature

Why Use Primary Sources?

Primary sources are the raw materials of historical research - they are the documents or artifacts closest to the topic of investigation. Often they are created during the time period that is being studied (correspondence, diaries, newspapers, government documents, art) but they can also be produced later by eyewitnesses or participants (memoirs, oral histories). You may find primary sources in their original format (usually in an archive) or reproduced in a variety of ways: books, microfilm, digital, etc.

From Clayton, Tricia. "What Are Primary Sources?" Primary Sources - History. Georgia State University Library. 26 Jan. 2010, Web 03 Feb. 2010.

Key Words to Use for Finding Primary Sources

Add these words to the end of your search for resources on any topic to focus your search specifically on primary sources:

  • sources
  • correspondence
  • personal narratives
  • photographs
  • diaries

_______________________

For example: american revolution sources

Use MJC Databases to Find Primary Sources

The MJC Library subscribes to several databases you can use to find primary sources.

Just click on the button below to go to these primary sources databases

Be sure to scroll down once you get to the Articles & Databases page so that you can see the Primary Sources databases.

Click to go to articles and databases

Find Primary Sources on the Web