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Information Evaluation

"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.

"Accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience." 


  • Publications (not 1st person perspective)
  • Journal articles
  • Books, textbooks
  • Histories, criticisms, commentaries
  • Reference materials, encyclopedias

Source:  Using Primary Sources by Library of Congress.

How do I find Primary Sources? 


Check the bibliography and notes of your secondary sources.

To find library books that contain primary sources, search the library and
use any of these subject terms in your searches:

  • Sources
  • Tests
  • Diaries
  • Correspondence
  • Interviews
  • Speeches
  • Raw Data
  • Newspapers

The research guide for History and American Studies has additional information on locating primary sources


In the social sciences and the sciences, scholars use the terms "primary" and "secondary" differently from scholars in the humanities. 
Primary research refers to the research conducted by the authors of the original source. The source will describe the authors' methodology, results and conclusions. This might be raw data, letters, research or study, tests, news reports, interviews, or some journal articles.
Secondary research describes or analyzes the research done by others. These include news analyses, magazine articles, some journal articles, scholarly books, opinion pieces or editorials. These can be excellent resources that can lead you to additional primary research on your topic.