(Some secondary sources used differently can become primary sources)
Textbook Answer: Primary sources are contrasted with secondary sources, works that provide analysis, commentary, or criticism on the primary source. A primary source is "first-hand" information, sources as close as possible to the origin of the information or idea under study.
Book about Martin Luther King Jr.
Encyclopedia entry about the Civil Rights Movement
Analysis of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech
Martin Luther King Jr. Autobiography
Pamphlets produced by Civil Rights activists / Photos of march Posters / Newspaper article reporting a civil rights marches/events
Transcript or a published copy of Martin Luther King Jr. speech
In historical studies, primary sources include written works, recordings, or other sources of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question.
Examples of commonly used primary sources include government documents, memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and contemporary newspaper accounts.
Plural noun: archives
a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.
Which archive has the records you need?
Sometimes a whole archive will be devoted to one issue but many times an archive will own many collections. So how do you find archive materials when you don't know where to search?
Google (see "Finding primary sourses" for further instructions)
Databases, like the OAC, that keep track of who has what
You most likely won’t have the time or the ability to visit various archives in person so filter your search for digitized records.
Provides new from papers, broadcasts, and wire services around the nation and the world. A good resource for local news not covered by LA Times. HOWEVER it doesn't have much before the 80s and nothing before the 70's.
Social Movement is: "collectivities acting with some degree of organization and continuity outside of institutional or organizational channels for the purpose of challenging or defending extant authority, whether it is institutionally or culturally based, in the group, organization, society, culture, or world order of which they are a part" which is from the intro to the Blackwell Companion to Social Movements.
Finding Primary Sources
Where to find Primary Resources:
Newspaper Articles = Newspaper and History Databases
Famous Speech/Pamphlets= Library Catalog
Autobiographies = Library Catalog
Art, Personal correspondence, speeches, photos, pamphlets, articles =Archives and/ or History/Art Databases.
Government Documents= Government Websites, National Archive, Other Archives, Library Catalog
Search "[topic] primary sources" in Google to see what comes up.
Often times you'll discover digitized sources at an archive or museum that you were previously unfamiliar with.
Tip: Use Secondary Sources to find Primary Sources.
Encyclopedias provide detailed summaries of topics- try search GVR entry or wikipedia page for a topic, and written down names of important people/places/incidents, and searched for [those] + primary sources in Google.
Was your movent opposing or reacting to legislature? Where they trying to pass legislature? Try to find the government documents discuss the topic, locate statements made by politics involved on both side of the issue...
Access to personal narratives such as letters, diaries, pamphlets, autobiographies, and oral histories, including several thousand indexed and searchable pages of Ellis Island Oral History interviews.
Collection starts around 1840 and extend to the present, focusing heavily on the period from 1920 to 1980.
Includes more recent waves of immigrants from Latin America and Asia. Provides perspectives both on North America and on the immigrants' countries of origin.
Provides a collection of primary documents central to U.S. foreign and military policy since 1945. The resource now includes 31 subscribed collections consisting of over 43,000 meticulously indexed documents. Each of these collections, compiled by top scholars and experts, exhaustively covers the most critical world events, countries, and U.S. policy decisions from post-World War II through the 21st century. Visit ProQuest's guide for an overview of the collections.
Access to scarce and unique Latin American pamphlets published during the 19th and the early 20th centuries are owned by Harvard's Widener Library. These pamphlets are valuable primary resources for students and researchers working on Latin American history.
Accessible Archives provides full text searchable databases of primary source material from 18th and 19th Century publications including historical periodicals and books; eyewitness accounts of historical events, vivid descriptions of daily life, editorial observations, commerce as seen through advertisements, and genealogical records are available in an online environment.
The collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) contains over 85,000 domestic and international political posters and prints relating to historical and contemporary social movements.
Remember, secondary sources will often name key people, pivotal events, influential literature, important dates, etc. Thus, secondary sources identify primary sources you need to find or the people worth research further.
Ex: Civil Rights Topic
You discover Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader in this moment so your research him further to see if he gave speeches, published materials, or was interviewed.
You discover he gave the important "I have a Dream Speech" during the "March on Washington" event and you are able to track down the transcript and finds audio-visual of the speech.
Spanning American history in the 20th Century (1900s), this source offers access to primary source materials including selected speeches, letters, legal decisions, government documents, lyrics, advertisements, literary scripts, recipes, scrapbooks, cartoons, and many other types of material.
Explore the "Table of Contents" to find your decade. This source may help you gather contextual information.