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* History: Primary Sources: About Primary Sources

Learn More About Primary Sources

Primary Sources at Yale defines and explains the importance of primary sources along with a series of questions for evaluating documents.

The National History Day Research Roadmap provides a good discussion about the definition and use of primary sources.

Evaluating Primary Sources

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages from Cornell University offers an excellent guide for evaluating primary sources. 

What is a Primary Source?

From Yale University

"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are 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 are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format."      

 

Video produced by the University of California, San Diego's Social Sciences & Humanities Library.

More About Primary Sources

World War I Posters in Special Collecions

Examples of primary sources include:

  • Artifacts
  • Autobiographies
  • Capitivity Narratives
  • Correspondence
  • Court proceedings
  • Diaries
  • Government records
  • Letters
  • Magazines
  • Maps
  • Memoirs
  • Newspapers
  • Oral Histories
  • Pamphlets
  • Papers
  • Personal Narratives
  • Photographs
  • Records
  • Songs
  • Speeches

    Liaison Librarian

    Shelley Harper
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    Tutt Library, Colorado College      Research Help Desk: 719-389-6662, Texting: 719-387-5441, E-mail: tuttref@ColoradoCollege.edu