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SOC 444: Social Movements (Crubaugh): How To Find Primary Sources
This online guide contains customized materials selected by your librarian, in partnership with your professor, to highlight resources you'll need for the research assignment.
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.
What is a Primary Resources?
Short Answer: It depends on the project
(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.
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.
Finding Primary Sources
< First see Secondary 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.