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Primary sources: Start here

This guide is for anyone needing to use primary sources for research, primarily in US history - what they are, what to expect, and how to find them

Why primary sources?

"Primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period." ~ Library of Congress

By using primary sources you can draw your own informed conclusions - be your own author!

Learn more:

First, there was the primary source...

Guyn, Portland Team, baseball card portrait, back sideGuyn, Portland Team, baseball card portrait, front view


‚ÄčImage sources: "Guyn, Portland team, baseball card portrait," via LOC, 1909, No known restrictions on publication.

What is a primary source?

A primary source is information in its original form.  It has not been interpreted or translated.  A primary source can appear in print, such as a diary; audio, such as a radio interview; visual such as an art piece or photograph; or even something you can use, touch, pick up, feel, step on, such as clothing or toys.

The baseball card on the left is a primary source.  It is full of information a researcher can use in many different ways, including, but not limited to, examples of sports and corporate advertising.

May the source be with you

When we speak of primary sources, we must also address what a secondary source is. Watch:

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