Primary Sources

In History Research, Primary Sources are used to provide evidence on how people lived and thought in the time period that we are studying.

Features of Primary Sources are:

  • They can be any format.
    • Most commonly people use personal papers like letters, diaries, or speeches, because they are text-heavy and provide a lot of evidence, but other formats like news, images, datasets, films and music, maps, clothing, etc. can also be very helpful!
  • They are original and have not been changed or modified.
  • They are in close proximity to your topic, both in location and time frame.
    • For example, a letter from the year and city of the event you are studying is much more helpful than a letter from a neighboring country or from five years after the event.

Don't forget Primary Sources also have to be cited! Use the Citation Guidelines if you have questions, and you can always email Annie with questions!

Historical Newspapers and Periodicals

Statistics and Data

Manuscripts & Other Collections