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When evaluating information, it is useful to identify if it's a Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary source. By doing so, you will be able recognize if the author is reporting on his/her own first hand experiences, or relying on the views of others.
A first person account by someone who experienced or witnessed an event. The original document has not been previously published or interpreted by anyone else.
- First person account of an event
- First publication of a scientific study
- Speech or lecture
- Original artwork
- Handwritten manuscript
- Letters between two people
- A diary
- Historical documents, e.g. Bill of Rights
One step removed from the primary original source. The author is reexamining, interpreting and forming conclusions based on the information conveyed in the primary source.
- Newspaper reporting on a scientific study
- Review of a music CD or art show
Further removed from a primary source. It leads the researcher to a secondary source, rather than to the primary source.
- Index to articles
- Library catalog
Primary and Secondary Resources Video
OCC Databases for Finding Primary Sources
America's Historical Newspapers 1690-2000
This database contains hundreds of newspapers published in the United States. Each article is an image of the original newspaper page, so you can see in context how the article looked to people at the time it was published. Newspapers covered include ethnic, business, agricultural and mainstream newspapers, allowing you to see how the same event was covered differently by different groups.
American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals
This database contains periodicals and magazines published in the 1700-1800s in the US. These primary resources are a great way to see what people thought of issues and events in the past. When searching, keep in mind that language changes over time - you may need to use more antiquated words to find the articles you want!
European Views of the Americas: 1493 to 1750
This database gives access to primary documents about America from 1493-1750. These are documents from the time period, written by people that lived in that time period.
Films on Demand Archival Films & Newsreels
A collection of newsreels and other primary source films.
History Reference Center
Limit to "Primary Source Document" in Advanced Search
Under "Look Up a Legal Case", you can find the text of various court decisions.
Search the Library Catalog to find primary source material for your topic. Try adding one of the keywords below:
- personal narratives