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HSS 300 - The United States 1865-1945: Primary Sources

This guide is intended for students enrolled in the second term of U.S. History.

What is a Primary Source?

Primary Source vs. Secondary Source

A primary source is a document that shows direct, immediate or firsthand knowledge of a subject or event. It is a document written at the time or on the scene where an event occurred.

Secondary sources do not reflect direct knowledge of a topic or event. These include biographies, monographs, and general periodical articles. Secondary sources are written by people who did not witness or experience an event but have a great deal of knowledge about the topic.

Scholarly writers use primary sources to develop secondary sources.

Primary Source Types

  • Autobiographies
  • Diaries/Journals
  • Letters
  • Speeches
  • Travel Accounts
  • Messages and Papers
  • Government Documents
  • Magazine/Newspaper Articles
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Other Non-Text Materials

Primary Source Websites

Search the OWHL Catalog

             Primary Sources in the OWHL Catalog

                 

 

Do a keyword search for your topic and include the words primary source in your search string. For example: when looking for primary sources about Thomas Jefferson you should type Thomas Jefferson primary source into the search box.

Primary Sources in Databases

ALWAYS use the date range feature when searching for primary source newspaper articles.  An article is only a primary source if it was published at the time in which an event took place.

Newspapers:

Popular Press:

Documents:

Images & Objects: