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Tutt Library Research Guides


FG306/353: History of Sex: Traditions & Modernity (HY307/308): Primary Sources

Course guide for conducting research for History of Sex.

What is a Primary Source?

"What are primary sources? Primary sources provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic or question under investigation.

They are usually created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later."   -- Primary Sources at Yale University,, accessed 3/27/2017.

Examples of primary sources - contemporary means published, written or otherwise produced at or close to the time being studied:

  • Speeches
  • Legislation
  • Contemporary newspaper articles
  • Diaries, journals, & letters
  • Contemporary photographs & artwork
  • Contemporary statistics
  • Oral histories & interviews
  • Contemporary maps

Oscar Wilde

Photograph of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony, image from Wikimedia.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

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