Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

Determining whether a source is primary or secondary depends on the subject being studied. For example, consider: Did the creator of the material experience or witness the event being studied? During what time period was the material created?

More information on primary sources can be found through the following:

Find primary sources online and through library databases:

Below is a select list of resources which include a range of digitized primary sources, such as government documents, books, prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, ephemera, videos, webpages and more.


Lists of additional online primary sources:


Newspapers could be considered to be either primary or secondary sources depending on the topic at hand. When reporting on events or issues as they happen in real-time, newspapers serve as primary sources. For example, a newspaper from April 16, 1912 could be considered a primary source on the subject of the Titanic.

Newspapers would be considered secondary sources when they analyze events that occurred in the past. 


Locating books in the public domain

The below websites provide access to public domain books and book-like materials (magazines, newspapers, sheet music, journals, government documents) across many subjects.

More details on U.S. copyright:

Citing primary sources

Chicago Citation Style

MLA Citation Style

Greenley Library video: Creating citations in Google Docs (for MLA and Chicago author-date citation styles)


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