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A few things to keep in mind when looking for and working with primary sources:
Context - In what context was the creator of this source working? What might have influenced them? For example, if you've found one good newspaper article, what was on the cover of the newspaper that day? What were the advertisements?
Audience - Who is the intended audience for this source?
Format - Consider how the format you've found the document in might impact your assessment and analysis.
A scanned image of a document illustrates what the original document looked like (including handwriting, marginalia, etc.). This might give you a different perspective on the document than a transcription, in which the document is reduced to its text.
These short tutorials from the University of Illinois Libraries can help you develop a better sense for the different kind of sources available. Module 1 focuses on source types. Module 2 focuses on U Illinois-specific advice and can be skipped. Module 3 offers some suggestions for making sense of a primary document.
This site (created by academic historians) offers suggestions for how to analyze different kinds of primary sources including images, maps, music, newspapers, official documents, personal accounts (e.g. diaries, letters), and travel narratives.
Examples of Primary Sources
Primary sources are firsthand accounts of events or conditions during a particular period, often recorded contemporaneously by participants or observers.
Primary sources are written in the language of the time, not necessarily the language we use now. Choose your search terms wisely, or else you might miss out on the perfect source.
Diaries and journals
Speeches and sermons
Notes (and other written materials describing experienced or observed events)
Autobiographies and memoirs describing experienced or observed events (in hindsight)
Photographs, films, videos
News broadcasts and transcripts
Audio recordings documenting contemporary events
Music, television shows, advertisements
Buildings, monuments, etc.
Public opinion polls, television shows, movies, music, best-sellers, advertisements - anything that provides a cultural, psychological, or sociological snapshot of a certain time period