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(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.
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.
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.
Find the Archives Collecting Artifacts on your Topic
What is an archive?
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?
OAC is a database that keeps track of which archives have what collections in California
University Archive (consider alma mater of movement leaders)
TIP: You most likely won’t have the time or the ability to visit various archives in person so filter your search results to "digitized records" only.
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.
Series I offers more than 700 historical American newspapers from 23 states and the District of Columbia printed between 1690 and 1876 and is based on Clarence S. Brigham's "History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820" and other authoritative bibliographies.