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Primary & Secondary Sources
"The raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study."
- Newspaper or magazine articles
- Books, pamphlets, government documents
- Diaries, letters, manuscripts, speeches, interviews, relics, artifacts
- Maps, archival materials, creative works
- Art, visual materials, music, sound recordings, videos
Source: Using Primary Sources by Library of Congress.. / Image Source: Primary Source Graphic by adstarkel. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
"Accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience."
Tips for Finding Primary Sources
- Check the bibliography and notes of your secondary sources.
- Watch for these terms in subject headings
- Personal narratives (for first-person accounts)
- Look in the library catalog for diaries, journals, memoirs by individuals, collections of the papers of notable people, and published collections of primary resources.
- Use the Advanced Search feature in the library's catalog to refine your search.
Newspapers are often excellent primary sources. Be sure to check the Newspaper Articles guide, authored by Emeritus Librarian Jack Bales.
Also be sure to check the UMW History and American Studies Resources page.
Primary vs. Secondary