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U.S. History

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What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are documents or objects created by participants or witnesses at the time of an event.

Examples of primary sources:  diaries, interviews, autobiographies, government documents, speeches, photographs, and artifacts, such as pottery.

Need help citing primary sources in Chicago Style?  Watch these video tutorials!

Online Sources for Primary Documents


Search for Primary Documents Online

In Google, search for "primary sources" and your topic.

You could also try  "primary documents" or "digital collection" or "digital library" in addition to "primary sources".

Search Tip:

Use words that would have been used during the time period you're researching.  For example, African American was not always used.  The language in documents in previous times may have included Negro, slave or black.

Library Catalog: Find Books with Primary Documents

How to Search the Library Catalog for Books with Primary Documents

Search for your topic AND primary sources.  For example:  united states AND primary sources