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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

GSFA 199.02: Hard Hitting Songs (Cathy Thomas-Grant): Primary Sources (Historic Records)

This guide provides links to information that will help you answer research questions for weekly assignments and your midterm.

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. 

Secondary Source:
  • Book about Martin Luther King Jr.  
  • Encyclopedia entry about the Civil Rights Movement
  • Analysis of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech

Primary Source:

  • 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.
  • Museum websites 

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. 

Primary Sources

Find the Archives Collecting Artifacts on your Topic

What is an archive?

ar·chive

Noun

Plural noun: archives

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 
  • National Archives 
  • 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. 

News

"source of information from people who were participants or direct witnesses to the events in question." like a reporter...