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Primary Sources in the Humanities

A guide to locating primary sources

Primary Sources in the Humanties

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event. They can be original records or objects created by participants and observers during the time the event occurred or shortly thereafter.

How to Use Primary Sources

General Examples of Primary Sources

  • Original documents: autobiographies, diaries, e-mail, interviews, letters, minutes, news film footage, official records, photographs, raw research data, speeches, personal narratives, sources, memoirs, letters, dispatches, interviews, pamphlets, diaries, speeches, translations
  • Creative works: art, drama, films, music, novels, poetry
  • Relics or artifacts: buildings, clothing, DNA, furniture, jewelry, pottery

Specific Examples of Primary Sources

  • Plato's Republic - justice and philosophy in ancient Greece

  • The Declaration of Independence - U. S. history

  • The Diary of Anne Frank - experiences of Jews in World War II

  • Film footage of the assassination of President J. F. Kennedy - U.S. History

Last Updated: May 28, 2024 11:56 AM