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History Guide: Primary Sources

This guide is designed to help students begin historical research.

History Research Guide

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are documents and other materials that provide contemporary, firsthand evidence of a particular historical era or event.  Primary source material can include letters, diaries, newspapers, photographs, videos, political documents, speeches, artwork, and more.


Often primary source materials will be collected and published in book form, including published diaries, correspondence, or a variety of documents focused on a particular historical event.  Use the following resources to find this material:

You can use the Library of Congress Authorities (controlled vocabulary) to help locate published primary materials:

Look for subject headings that end with the following terms:

  • -- Sources
  • -- Diaries
  • -- Correspondence
  • -- Personal narratives

Online Resources

Subject Librarian