Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Full Text Finder This link opens in a new windowThis resource allows you to search for specific journal titles in the OWHL's collection and see which databases have the full text articles.
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 are those writings without 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.
Writers often use primary sources in their writing of secondary
Primary Source Types
- Travel Accounts
- Messages and Papers
- Government Documents
- Magazine/Newspaper Articles
- Other Non-Text Materials
Finding Primary Sources
You can find primary sources for this topic in three places:
- Books. Many of our E-Books have primary sources in them. Look for words in the book's title like "a documentary history" or "sources." Also look for clues within the text like block quotes and distinct sections with a different author.
- Databases. Many of the databases you looked at in the Reference Sources tab have primary sources within them. Those with primary sources are relisted below. Try playing with search filters to make sure you are looking at primary sources in the search results.
- Websites. Below are a few websites with primary sources. Make sure to note the difference between any introductory text and the primary source itself.
If you're not sure if you're looking at a primary source, just ask a librarian for help!
Primary Sources in Databases
ARTSTOR This link opens in a new window
A digital library of over two million images from some of the world's leading museums, archives, scholars, and artists.
ABC CLIO Daily Life Through History This link opens in a new window
This comprehensive collection of primary and reference sources provides direct insight into the social history of societies ranging from the Australian Aborigines all the way to 21st-century China.
Gale Primary Sources: The Illustrated London News Histroical Archives, 1842-2003 This link opens in a new window
The full archive of the world's first pictorial weekly newspaper.
ProQuest International Newsstream This link opens in a new window
News Articles from Around the World
Latin American News Digest This link opens in a new window
Provides a wide spectrum coverage of news and commentary, produced by Latin Americans, for Latin Americans. Issues appear weekly, with the exception of July, Thanksgiving break and December.
Infobase Modern World History This link opens in a new window
This reference database covers the people, places, and events in the broad expanse of history from the mid 15th century to the present. Some primary sources may also be found here.
Websites with Primary Sources
Internet Modern History Sourcebook
Includes primary and secondary source information related to Modern History from the Reformation to the 21st century.
Nations Online Project is made to improve cross-cultural understanding and global awareness.