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What is Primary Source?



A primary source provides direct or first-hand accounts about a topic, an event, object, person, or work of art from people who had a direct connection with it.

The primary sources are original materials that helps students and other researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a particular event or time period.

People who witnessed these events in particular time period as participant or observer, write or produce firsthand experience of a topic, an event. Primary sources both can be written or non-written such as video recordings, postcards.

Primary Sources are:

  • Original documents (birth certificates, property deeds, trial transcripts, court records, agreements, official or non-official organization papers, bills)
  • Autobiographies and memoirs
  • Diaries, personal letters, and speeches - - what the people involved said or wrote
  • Interviews, surveys, and fieldwork, statistics, scientific journal articles with experiment results
  • Internet communications on email, blogs, video and audio recordings that capture events
  • Photographs, drawings, and posters
  • Works of art and literature, clothes, furniture, kitchen staffs
  • Books, magazine and newspaper articles that published at the time
  • Public opinion polls
  • Speeches and oral histories
  • Patents
  • Technical reports
  • Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did.

While you are searching “primary sources” in the library catalogues, you can use some keywords:

  •      Archive materials
  •      Correspondence
  •      Diary
  •      History Archive
  •      History Document
  •      History Source
  •      Interview
  •      Letter
  •      Personal Narrative
  •      Primary source
  •      Speech

Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using