In the arts and humanities a primary source is a source created during the historical period being studied. It documents the subject of study in some way. In the sciences "primary source" refers to an original research study.
This page focuses on primary sources for the arts and humanities. Examples of such primary sources include:
|Newspaper accounts||Letters, diaries, and scrapbooks|
(research data, statistics,
congressional transcripts, laws, etc.)
|Personal accounts, autobiographies, memoirs|
|Images and museum artifacts||Speeches|
|Data from scientific experiments||Oral histories|
Other types of information may also be primary sources if they are analyzed for their historical or cultural significance.
Below are top strategies for finding historical primary sources.
1. The Library Catalog IUCAT includes primary source materials available in print, online, and in microfilm. If you are looking for a specific item, search by title or author.
If you are looking for primary sources on a certain topic, do an Advanced Search. Here you can limit by format (e.g. map, film, manuscript, realia), publication year, author, or subject. (Subjects can be especially helpful for narrowing a search by topic or by document type.)
Here are some recommended catalog search terms for locating primary sources.
Try these words in a general keyword search, or to narrow your results limit the search to "subject."
Subject headings describe what an item is about. Click on the subject heading to find more books that have been tagged with the same heading.
If your topic relates to an event that occurred before 1923, there are likely relevant primary sources available in the public domain. Google Books has digitized and made available many such books.
Search for a specific work or for a general topic. Note, however, that Google Books also lists resources that are only available to preview. Look for resources with publication dates before 1923 and with a Read Preview link. The Advanced Book Search allows you to limit to Full view only books.
The Libraries have some databases for primary source materials. Below are examples of such databases.
Newspapers & Media