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FS 30: Activism in Communities of Study: Finding Primary Sources: Library Collections

This is a research guide to accompany Dr. Althea Sircar's first-year seminar.

Primary Sources

A primary source is a document or record containing firsthand information or original data on a topic. Primary sources are created contemporaneously with the topic they describe. Examples of primary sources include:

  •  Original manuscripts
  •  Diaries
  •  Memoirs 
  •  Letters
  •  Journals 
  •  Photographs
  •  Drawings
  •  Interviews
  •  Government documents
  •  Public records
  •  Eyewitness accounts
  •  Artifacts

Summary of characteristics: 

  • Original, first-hand account of an event or time period
  • Usually written or made during or close to the event or time period
  • Original, creative writing or works of art
  • Factual, not interpretive

Find Information


Newspapers as Primary Sources

Search Strategies

When searching for primary sources, thing about specific events, specific people, dates or time periods, as well as the media you wish to interact with (text, image, sound, etc.) to narrow your results.