Primary Sources

  • PRIMARY SOURCES

    According to the Library of Congress, PRIMARY SOURCES "are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from SECONDARY SOURCES, which are accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience." For example, an interview with James Dean while he was alive would be a PRIMARY SOURCE. A fictional movie starring James Dean as an actor or a book written about him after his death would be SECONDARY SOURCES. 

    Example Primary Sources include:

     archives & manuscript material  artifacts like clothing & furniture  audio & video recordings  diaries
     government publications & records  journals, letters & diaries  maps  newspaper & magazine clippings
     oral histories  photographs  speeches  & other original materials

     

    Example Secondary Sources include: newspaper article summarizing a scientific study, review of a musical album or theater performance, biography about a famous person, etc.

     

    PRIMARY RESOURCES TO CONSIDER as a starting point:

     

    DPLA

      Library of Congress  

    National Archives

    DIGITAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OF AMERICA

     

     

    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 

     

     

    NATIONAL ARCHIVES

     

    GLI   American in Class   Databases

    THE GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN HISTORY

     

     

     

    AMERICA IN CLASS: from the NATIONAL HUMANITIES CENTER

     

     

     

    WHEATON NORTH DATABASES, especially Britannica, US History in Context, and World History in Context