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What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources provide first-hand accounts or information on a topic or event. They're created by someone who was present during an experience or time period of an occurrence and offer an insider's view.
A primary source reflects a time period or event, either extraordinary or every day, as it occurred. So, a primary source could have been recorded an hour ago in a research lab or in the year 1762. Primary sources also include event recollections by a participant after the event has happened. Primary sources can be writings, media, images, documented experiments, or unfolding news events. They can also be oral statements, presentations, data, physical items, and performances.
Types of primary resources:
- Diaries and personal journals
- Letters, e-mails and other correspondence
- Social media writings (blogs, tweets, etc.)
- Autobiographies and memoirs
- Newspapers, magazines, and journals articles, as well as books, published at the time of an event
- Sound and video recordings from a time period or event, including speeches (often called addresses) and interviews
- Other legal documents, such as property deeds and birth certificates
- Original fiction, including novels, plays, poetry, etc
- Films, and other musical and artistic performances
- Photographs and graphic images, including scrapbooks and photo albums
- Data, from original research studies, public opinion polls, and government sources.
- Records and documents of government meetings, legal proceedings, business meeting minutes, and conference proceedings
- Advertisements, pamphlets, and brochures
- Artifacts and printed ephemera
- Oral history
- Ephemera are cultural objects giving a time-capsule snapshot of a moment in history, and include such items as clothing, costumes, furniture, toys, ticket stubs, old calendars, playbills, and matchbooks.
- Anything you compile or gather yourself, including the results of surveys, questionnaires, interviews, observations, ethnographic research, polling, etc.
Periodicals Archive Online (PAO) This link opens in a new window
Hundreds of full text digitized journals, with content ranging from the early 19th century to the year 2000
American Periodicals This link opens in a new window
Presents digitized American magazine and journal articles published from colonial days to 1900.
New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers) This link opens in a new window
This collection begins with the first issue of the New York Times in 1851, to four years before the current year. Find full text and full image articles, with digital reproductions of every page and every issue.
Colorado Historic Newspapers This link opens in a new window
The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) currently includes digitized pages representing individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. Due to copyright restrictions, CHNC does not generally include newspapers published after 1923.
Times Digital Archive (TDA) This link opens in a new window
The Times of London (a.k.a. The London Times or The Times), is the oldest daily newspaper in continuous publication. This archve offers content from the first issue in 1785, to six years before the current year.
Identifies and often links to primary resources residing in digital repositories worldwide
Eighteenth Century Journals This link opens in a new window
A rich resource for the study of all aspects of the eighteenth century, including the American and French revolutions, British and European literature, theatre and popular entertainment, politics and religion, popular morality and social life, and exoticism and imperialism.
Collection ranges from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry recordings, to original music contributed by users. Includes non-English audio options.