Answered By: Rebecca Sedam
Last Updated: Oct 28, 2016     Views: 30

A primary source is typically an original record or artifact created at or around the time an event took place.  It can also be a first-hand account recorded after the event under study. 

Here are some examples:

  • diaries
  • photographs
  • maps
  • vital records (birth certificates, marriage licenses)
  • literary manuscripts
  • audio recordings
  • news footage
  • research data
  • works of art
  • memoirs/autobiographies
  • oral histories
  • letters
  • government documents
  • journals
  • newspapers
  • speeches
  • interviews

These are good guidelines.  However, if you are working on a project for your class, it is very important to make sure that you and your instructor are in agreement about what constitutes an acceptable source.  

You can find tips on using the online catalog to find primary sources as well as additional details in our U.S. History and Primary Source Documents guides.

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