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Internet Sources for Research Help Guide: Primary Sources

Introduction

Primary sources are generally considered to be the first-hand account or the artifacts of a historical event, person or culture, such as diaries, contemporary observations (such as newspaper articles), audio and video recordings, photographs, maps, oral histories, etc. Primary sources are also defined as any original artistic creation, such as a painting, a novel, or a piece of music.

Secondary sources are works that synthesize or interpret primary source material.

Learn more at the Primary vs. Secondary Sources tab in the Library Orientation Research Guide.

 

Before you begin your search for primary sources, decide what type of material you need. Do you need letters? Diaries? Newspaper articles? Photographs? You can save time searching if you know what you want.

For example, if you need to use a person's diary who lived in Massachusetts during the Colonial period, you can create an efficient search strategy in Google: (diary OR diaries) Massachusetts. This search may not lead you directly to a full-text diary, but it will most probably bring up the websites of historical societies or museums that have digitized full-text primary source materials and made them available through their website.

Selected Databases with Primary Sources

The UDC Library subscribes to many databases that include primary source content. This list contains a selection of those databases. See the A-Z Resource List for the complete list of databases. 

Newspapers and Newswires

Newspapers and newswires report information via research, interviews, surveys, speeches, etc. They can provide the latest information on what people are thinking about your topic. Reading different newspapers may provide different perspectives for you to consider in your research.

Newspapers and newswires are available in the following databases:

Selected Primary Source Collections on the Web