Welcome to the Primary Sources Guide
Primary sources 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.
Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later. 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.
Source: Primary Sources at Yale
Research involves examining primary sources (original material) to test and validate the point of view or interpretation of the material later published as a reference work or secondary source.
A primary source is direct evidence to the event, person, or subject of research, however on its own it may be difficult to interpret.
Use primary sources to:
When you present your conclusions, you will have produced another secondary source to aid others in their research.
Primary sources are the foundations of histories. Evaluation of the sources is essential to scholarly research.
Information accessed using the internet needs to be critically evaluated. Be sure to check out our immensely helpful Evaluation page!
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