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Historical Methods

Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

Primary Sources are materials that provide a first-hand account of an event, person, place, etc.

Primary Sources are most often created at the time of the event by a participant or witness, but can include memoirs or accounts recorded at a later date by someone directly connected to that moment in history. 

Primary Sources can give details about an event, person, or place AND can demonstrate how people viewed and described their world.

Types of Primary Sources:

Textual: Diaries, speeches, laws, personal papers, autobiographies, interview transcripts, original research, first person reports in newspapers and magazines.

Non-textual: Original artwork, cartoons, photographs, posters, films, postcards, baseball cards, objects (jewelry, weaponry, religious iconography), and video or audio that captures an event. 


Peter Gordon, “A View of Savannah as it stood the 29 March 1734,” Georgia Historical Society, accessed June 1, 2018,

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