Primary sources are important resources when studying history! They enable the researcher to get as close as possible to the truth of what actually happened during an event or time period. Primary sources are ususally the first-hand accounts of an event or period in time. These are some of the most common forms of primary sources:
- Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters, memos, manuscripts (or other participant/observer direct description of an event)
- Memoirs and autobiographies. (Tend to be less reliable since they are further removed from the event)
- Records of organizations and agencies of government. (Examples: minutes of meetings, birth certificates, census data, etc.)
- Published materials (books, magazine and journal articles, newspaper articles) written at the time about a particular event. (Make sure you make the distinction between a report versus historical analysis)
- Photographs, audio recordings and moving pictures or video recordings, documenting what happened.
- Artifacts of all kinds: physical objects, buildings, furniture, tools, appliances and household items, clothing, toys.
- Research reports in the sciences and social sciences. Especially for recent social history, the best evidence of broad developments in society is often in the form of social science surveys or research studies. This research is generally reported in book form, government reports or most commonly in articles published in scholarly journals.
You can find some great places to look for primary sources under the "Find Articles & Primary Sources" and "Websites" tabs above!