Primary Sources


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Example of a primary source: The original Gettysburg Address document


Primary Sources Defined:

Primary source is an original document or object created at the time or recorded later (in the form of oral history, autobiographies and memoirs) concerning the topic being researched. There are many types of primary sources which include:
  • Books and periodicals (autobiographies, newspaper articles, manuscripts)
  • Original research
  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Government documents
  • Maps
  • Oral history
  • Legal documents
  • Video
  • Art



Finding primary sources:

  • Use the library's Online Catalog to find reference materials and books.
  • Search databases for primary source material.
  • Use the Internet to locate and use primary sources. Usually any search engine like AltaVista and Google can be used to find excellent places to start. Examples of a searches would be "slavery primary sources" or "civil rights primary sources".



Using Databases to find primary sources


Example: Martin Luther King Jr.

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Primary Source Index

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Keyword search: Martin Luther King

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Primary documents found by searching "Martin Luther King"

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Primary document: "I Have a Dream" speech

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Images as primary sources

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Sample lesson plans

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Lesson 7: reached by clicking on "1877-1970" link in previous screen

Tutorial

Example: Salem Witch Trials

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Salem Witch Trials

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Salem Witch Trials w/ primary documents

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All primary documents in database





Using the Internet to find Primary Sources


Example: Amistad

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Natinal Archive web site

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Click on "The Amistad Case" for primary documents

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Primary documents and activities

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Click on "19 Century Documents"

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Click on "argument of John Quincy Adams" to read document

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Complete argument by John Quincy Adams




Selected Primary Source Web Sites




Basic Research Help

Please click the Ask a Librarian icon if you have any questions concerning these guides, need help finding material for your research or any general questions you might have.
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General Library Information


Research guide prepared on 10/24/08 by William Hoag: whoag@rcc.mass.edu