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History (Countries and Regions of the World): Primary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are original records created during the time under study. Because they were present during the experience, they offer an inside first-hand view of a particular event unfiltered by interpretation, criticism, or evaluation. 

Some examples:

  • Letters
  • Newspapers
  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Manuscripts
  • Memoirs
  • Speeches
  • Diaries
  • News film footage
  • Autobiographies
  • Official records
  • Personal narratives
  • Creative works: poetry, drama, novels, music, art
  • Anecdotes
  • Correspondence
  • Pamphlets
  • Case studies

American Library Association Guide for Primary Source Materials

A guide to finding, evaluating, and using primary source materials created by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association (ALA).

Primary Source Material Collections - Global

Historic Audio Sources

Digital Historic Documents

Archival Materials

Reference & Instruction Department

Reference & Instruction Department
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