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This is the "Primary Sources" page of the "History" guide.
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Last Updated: Sep 6, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Primary Sources Print Page


When using primary sources, there are at least three major considerations. 
Think about their 

1) Authenticity
2) Reliability
3) Disagreement


What is a Primary Source?

Here are three definitions of primary sources.

"Sources are artifacts that have been left by the past. They exist either as relics, what we might call “remains,” or as the testimonies of witnesses of the past."
Howell, M & Preveinier, W., From Reliable Sources: an introduction to Historical Methods, Call Number D 16 .H713 2001, p. 17

“Primary sources record the actual words of someone who participated in or witnessed the events described or someone who got his or her information from participants.”  
Benjamin, J. , from  Student’s Guide to History, Call Number  D 16.3 .B4 2001, p. 6.

Yale University Library Primary Sources Research Colloquium:
“A primary source is firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. The nature and value of the source  cannot be determined without reference to the topic and questions it is meant to answer. The same document or other piece of evidence may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another. The search for primary sources does not, therefore, automatically include or exclude any category of records or documents.”
Craver, K., Using Internet Primary Sources to Teach Critical Thinking Skills In History, Call Number D 16.2 .C79 1999, p. 15


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