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About This Guide
This guide is intended to assist you in finding primary sources. Navigate this guide by clicking on the tabs above, or the Table of Contents below. If you need help, please contact us.
Table of Contents
What is a Primary Source?
What is a primary source has an explanation and brief video about primary sources.
Primary vs. Secondary
Primary vs secondary sources provides a comparison chart.
Primary Sources at Columbia College
Links to primary sources available at Stafford Library. There are subpages for different formats such as e-books, images, documents, and videos.
Museums and libraries with primary sources near and in Columbia.
This tab has subpages for primary sources in documents, speeches, images, and videos.
Primary Source Research Starter
A primary source is a historical document or artifact created during a particular period of time. Unlike secondary sources, which are secondhand accounts of historical events, primary sources provide researchers with information directly from the time period being studied. Examples of primary sources include letters, which often provide key details about everyday life; paintings, which, for example, can demonstrate the styles of clothing worn by people who lived at the time the paintings were created; and films, which frequently shed light on the cultural attitudes of the eras in which they were made.
Evaluating Primary Sources
Information from the Reference and User Services Association.
Using Primary Sources in Your Writing
Includes questions to ask about the nature of a source from the Reference and User Services Association.
Primary Sources Books and E-Books
Primary sources can be found by search for items with the subjects: sources, diaries, narratives, memoirs, and autobiographies. Here are some sample searches in our online catalog. Results may be books, e-books, and videos. Use a keyword search and one of the primary source terms or browse through some of the links below. Expand your search to MOBIUS to request books from other libraries.
Databases with Primary Sources
African American Studies Center
A collection of scholarship focusing on the lives and events which have shaped African American and African history and culture.
HeritageQuest® Online is a comprehensive database of American genealogical sources—rich in unique primary sources, local and family histories, and finding aids. It delivers an essential collection of genealogical and historical sources—with coverage dating back to the 1700s.
American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection
The American Antiquarian Society is the collection documenting the life of America's people from the Colonial Era through the Civil War and Reconstruction, giving digital access a collection of American periodicals published between 1684 and 1912. The historical periodicals collection contains digitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals and provides rich content detailing American history and culture, including advertising, health, women's issues, science, the history of slavery, industry and professions, religious issues, culture and the arts, and more.
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Basic resources for this guide were provided by Sue Ann Brainard at Milne Library State University of New York at Geneseo.