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HIS-101: History of Western Civilization I : Ancient Times to Mid 17th Century

Library Resources for History 101

Find primary sources

"Primary sources are materials produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under consideration, either as participants or as witnesses."

Quoted from:A Pocket Guide to Writing History, 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007

Examples of primary sources, both print and online, include:

  • Official documents, reports and publications
  • Letters, diaries, memoirs, or published writings
  • Cartoons and advertisements
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Speeches
  • Autobiographies
  • Statistical data
  • Oral or transcribed interviews
  • Artifacts & realia
  • Maps
  • Audio & Visual Materials - Photographs, film & video, digitized collections, sound recordings

Primary Sources:

Materials which have not been interpreted by another person.  Original documents or works of art created at or near the time an event occurred. Primary sources provide first hand accounts of experiences or events. Information is generally presented in its original form, whether it be a work of literature or art, or an account of an event or experience, or original documents or research products such as interviews, speeches, questionnaires, letters, diaries, manuscripts, memoirs, etc. Includes books, periodicals, and web sites.

Secondary Sources:

Secondary sources provide second hand accounts of events.  These sources include materials that have been reported, analyzed, or interpreted by people who do not have firsthand knowledge of an event and may be found in books or periodicals, or on web sites.

Below is a sampling of recently published primary source books from Reynolds Libraries collections.

To search for primary sources in Reynolds Libraries catalog, try subject terms such as:

  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • sources

Subject term examples:

  • greece history sources
  • elizabeth i correspondence




To search for primary sources in the EBSCOhost databases including: Academic Search Complete and History Reference Center, type your search terms than select Primary Source Document from the Publication Type menu:

**For getting started tips on how to search these databases for primary sources, check out our Finding Primary Sources in Library Catalog & Databases guide**

Librarian's Top Pick

Other primary source collections on the open web to try: