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.

Primary Sources

A guide to finding primary sources at Musselman Library and beyond

Looking for primary sources?  Use the pages in this guide to help you find primary source collections in Musselman Library, in nearby libraries and cultural heritage institutions, and online through library databases and websites. 

What is a primary source?

"Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects that were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place..."   [from Getting Started with Primary Sources by Library of Congress]

 

A primary source is a first-hand or contemporary account of an event or topic. They are the most direct evidence of a time or event because they were created by people or things that were there at the time or event. These sources have not been modified by interpretation and offer original thought or new information. Primary sources are original materials, regardless of format.

Letters, diaries, minutes, photographs, artifacts, interviews, and sound or video recordings are examples of primary sources created as a time or event is occurring. Oral histories, newspaper or journal articles, and memoirs or autobiographies are examples of primary sources created after the event or time in question but offering first-hand accounts.

Primary sources may be transformed from their original format into a newer one, such as when materials are published or digitized, but the contents are still primary. There are many primary sources available online today, but many more are still available in their original format, in archives, museums, libraries, historical sites, and elsewhere.  [from "Primary Sources - An Introductory Guide" - Seton Hall University]