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Advanced Research (General): Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources (or primary documents or resources) “provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. .. Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format.”  Sometimes, materials that are not first-person accounts but were written during the time period you are researching (such as newspaper articles or books) can be considered primary sources, because they provide direct insight on the time period.  (Primary Sources at Yale,

 When scholars or researchers make a careful examination of primary documents, draw conclusions, and write up those conclusions in a paper, article, or book, those interpretations are called secondary sources.

Common examples of primary sources:

Copies of speeches, addresses, treaties, laws, or declarations.
Diaries, letters, papers, or autobiographies.

First person reports in newspapers or magazines.

Interviews or oral histories.

Objects, photographs, or maps.

Video recordings, streaming video or tapes of events or speeches.

Find Primary Sources

Click here for Middle Georgia State's Subject Guide for finding primary resources.



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Kristen Bailey
Macon Library, Office 138
Subjects: History