Q. What are primary sources?

Answer

A primary source is a first hand testimony, document, speech or other evidence that gives insight into a particular person or an event.

They are often created during the time period which is being studied but can also be produced later by eyewitnesses or participants.

Primary sources are available in their original format in libraries, museums, archives, and are also reproduced online in library databases, books, and on university, government, and museum websites.

Common examples of Primary Sources: 

  • Original Documents: Autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories, diaries, interviews, correspondence (letters, emails, tweets, etc.), meeting minutes, film footage, official records, photographs, raw research data, speeches, newspapers, and government documents (laws, policies, court testimonies, etc.).
  • Creative Original Works: Art (paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc.), drama (plays, scripts, etc.), music, and non-fiction works like films, novels, and poetry.
  • Relics or Artifacts: Buildings, clothing, DNA, furniture, jewelry, pottery.

Here is a short video about Primary vs. Secondary Sources: https://youtu.be/cqXHO7bTPnw

Library Databases with Primary Sources

  • World History in Context This database covers a wide array of world history topics. When searching, look for sources and documents that fall under the "Primary Sources" category.
  • U.S History in Context This database covers a wide array of U.S. history topics. When searching, look for sources and documents that fall under the "Primary Sources" category. 
  • Los Angeles Times (from 1985 to Date) 1985 to present date. Using the ProQuest interface, search and view full-text Los Angeles Times articles.
  • Los Angeles Times Historical (1881-1992) 1881 to 1992 content. Using the ProQuest interface, search and view full-text Los Angeles Times articles.
  • African American Newspapers Access to more than 350 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience (1827-1998). This unique collection, which includes historically significant papers from more than 35 states, features many rare 19th-century titles.

Open Web Sources

Adapted from ELAC Library Workshop

  • Last Updated Jun 22, 2020
  • Views 10
  • Answered By Katie Hamilton

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