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Library & Information Technology

Using Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

World War I poster, circa 1918. Young girl with her arms outstretched in supplicationA primary source is a document or other sort of evidence written or created during the time under study, or by one of the persons or organizations directly involved in the event. Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types are:

  • Original Documents: Diaries, speeches, letters, minutes, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records
  • Creative Works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art, films, advertisements, illustrations, posters.
  • Relics or Artifacts: Jewelry, pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings, tools

This Subject Guide is not an exhaustive listing of primary sources, but we hope it will give you a good place to start your research.

Online Resources