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What are primary sources?

Primary Sources provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a question or topic under investigation.

Some examples of primary sources and formats:

  • Archives and Manuscripts:  digital media, diaries, journals, legal and financial documents
  • Books (Vantage Books)  and Pamphlets  
  • Data
  • Dissertations
  • Ephemera:  marriage license, tickets, labels
  • Government Governments: official text of laws, treaties, and debates
  • Maps
  • Objects and Artifacts:  jewelry, game boards, buildings and monuments
  • Oral Histories: interviews and audiovisual memoirs
  • Serials  newspapers articles and journals (new research and findings)
  • Sound Recordings: spoken words, speeches, news broadcasts
  • Visual Materials: films, videos, photographs, paintings


Define and Use Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

Uploaded on May 21, 2008.  Geisel Productions Web Series.