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What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are original artifacts or documents. They offer contemporary accounts from participants or people directly involved in an event. Examples of primary sources include, but are not limited to:
||An article critiquing the diary
||Book on the memoir
Other examples include:
- Diaries and literary memoirs
- Artistic works (musical and visual arts)
- News segments/transcripts
- Legal documents and statistics
While secondary sources are further removed from events and often reflect the author's perspective, using primary sources enables you to work with raw material and draw your own conclusions.
- American Memory Project (a Library of Congress initiative): Offers a diverse collection in a variety of formats (prints, photographs, letters, reports, sheet music, recordings, maps, etc.)
- National Archives: A huge collection of photographs, documents, reports, and more
- Congress.gov: Find legislative information and more
Where Can I Find a Primary Source?
- Enter the type of primary source you're looking for in the first box (narratives, correspondence, music scores, etc.)
- Change the drop-down menu next to the first search box from "Keyword" to "Subject"
- In the second box, type a related keyword (author, event, geographical location, etc.)
For example: You may type "narratives" in the first box and "Anne Frank" in the second box to look for Anne's diary and related primary sources.
Articles and Newspapers:
- In the "Search by Subject or Topic" option category select "Broadcast Transcripts"
- Enter search terms in box and click "Search"
- Use options on result page to focus your results
Speeches and Interviews:
- Under "Search Options," scroll down to the "Limit your results" section
- Under "Document type," select "Speech" or "Interview." To search both simultaneously hold down the "Control" key when making your selection