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Primary Sources: What are Primary Sources?

This guide will explain primary sources, give tips on using primary sources in your research, and link to online digital collections of primary sources.

   What are primary sources?

    Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories.

   What kinds of materials can be primary sources?

    Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs,  photographs, audio recordings, moving
    pictures, video recordings, research data,
 government documents, as well as objects or artifacts such as works of art, ancient roads, buildings, tools, and


   How are primary sources used in research?

    Primary sources provide the raw material for interpreting the past; and, when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they
    provide the resources necessary for historical research.

    Learn more:

Comparing primary, secondary, & tertiary sources

Video Example of Primary & Secondary Sources

This video from the University of California at San Diego shows examples of primary and secondary sources surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.