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HSS 593 - Natural Causes: How Climate Change Wrote History: Primary Sources

An OWHL guide with resources to support the history research for this interdisciplinary course.

Finding Primary Sources

Primary sources are documents or objects that reveal first hand knowledge of a person, place, event or time in history. Many primary sources will be found in secondary sources such as books and e-books, in databases, or on websites.  Primary sources could be newspaper articles from the time period/event, autobiographies, personal journals or diaries, and treaties, proclamations, gov't documents, etc.  If the time period you are studying is before print items proliferated, you may need to rely on artwork, architecture and objects to support your research.  If you have questions about finding primary sources, please see a librarian!  We are here to help.

Primary Source Types

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

Research Tip

Always do reading in secondary sources before looking for primary sources.  Often times, information in secondary sources will lead you to a primary source.  For example, an article in a reference book might reference a speech or letter written by the person you are researching.

Databases that Contain Primary Source Material