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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. You should look through any useful secondary sources you've found and check the bibliography to find primary sources examined in those works.
Keep in mind that while actual clothing, textiles, and images will represent a large trove of primary sources for this course, written materials like newspaper and magazine articles, and even autobiographies and diaries from the time period could be good primary sources, too. Works of visual art can be tricky to cite, so ask a librarian if you need assistance. We are here to help!
Image: Traditional Cameroonian Wedding Apparel (rootstoglory.com)
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.
Finding and Identifying Primary Sources
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. These include:
- Travel Accounts
- Messages and Papers
- Government Documents
- Magazine/Newspaper Articles
- Other Non-Text Materials
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 sources!
Databases with Primary Sources
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.
ProQuest Vogue Archive This link opens in a new window
The complete searchable archive of American Vogue, from the first issue in 1892 to the current month, reproduced in high-resolution color page images.
Gale Primary Sources Liberty Magazine Historical Archive, 1924-1950 This link opens in a new window
The digital archive for Liberty Magazine, a popular press magazine that covered American popular culture and important topics of the day.
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.
ABC CLIO Pop Culture Universe: Icons, Idols, Ideas This link opens in a new window
This comprehensive collection of primary and reference sources explores American popular culture from the early 20th century through today.
AM Explorer This link opens in a new window
Access millions of pages of primary source collections across the entire portfolio of Adam Matthew Digital, with access to global archives from the 15th-21st centuries.
Websites with Primary Sources
The Museum at FIT
The mission of the Museum is to educate and inspire diverse audiences with innovative exhibitions and projects that advance knowledge of fashion.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Fashion Collections from the Victoria and Albert Museum
V & A Textile Collection
From the Victoria and Albert Museum
The FIDM Museum and Library, Inc. collects, preserves, and interprets fashion objects and support materials with outstanding design merit.
Kyoto Costume Institute
The KCI Digital Archives on the KCI website presents image and text information for the objects in the collection, arranged in chronological order.
Europeana Fashion Collection
Explore fashion – historical clothing and accessories, contemporary designs, catwalk photographs, drawings, sketches, plates, catalogues and videos – from more than 30 European public and private institutions.***Scroll down past catwalk images to access articles and blog entries under "explore fashion stories".
LACMA Collections - Coatumes & Textiles
This Curatorial Area of the Digital Collection contains almost 13,000 images of fashion objects - sketches, textiles and clothing. Use the chronological groups to find historical examples.
Discover 42,242,500 images, texts, videos, and sounds from across the United States
NYPL - Creators Studios Fashion Illustrations
Collection of over 8,000 fashion design drawings produced by Creators Studios, a New York City Seventh Avenue fashion business that marketed ready-to-wear designs to clothing manufacturers across the country. The plates date from the 1950s-1970s and showcase the distinctive cuts, colors and fabrics that transformed American fashion.
Getty Images - Clothing (Archival)
Image repository with millions of photographs. Fair Use for educational purposes, watermark.